Be a part of the ‘Big Wildlife Garden’

Friday 19th August 2011

Caroline Spelman and Carlo Laurenzi launching 'Big Wildlife Garden' competitionCaroline Spelman and Carlo Laurenzi (LWT) at the launch of the 'Big Wildlife Garden' competition

Everyone has the opportunity to help create the UK’s largest nature reserve from today (Friday 19 August) – with the launch of the ‘Big Wildlife Garden’ (BWG) competition.

The competition - a commitment in the Government’s recently published Natural Environment White Paper - is being run by The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society, with funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The Big Wildlife Garden competition encourages everyone to do some wildlife gardening on their doorstep.  Anyone is eligible to take part – including individuals, communities, businesses and schools – and no space is too small to be transformed; be it a window box, school playing field or retail park in a town, city or in the countryside.  There are six categories and entry is free via the BWG website.

It is hoped that, through showcasing some of the best wildlife gardens in the UK, the competition will inspire everyone to take action and turn their gardens into wildlife havens; a great way of getting active and fit.

So many positive and easy-to-do things can be done to make gardens wildlife-friendly and running a competition like this will help raise awareness - Sarah Raven, television presenter

The competition is being launched by Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Defra, alongside the new England Biodiversity Strategy (EBS).  The EBS will set out how the Government will aim to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020.

Launching the competition, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, said: 

“No matter how big or small, every garden is a home for wildlife, and this competition gives gardeners the chance to be recognised for what their hard work has achieved, inspiring others to do what they can to make their gardens more wildlife-friendly. Ultimately, gardening for nature can create not just a local home for wildlife, it can help to connect habitats together from our neighbourhoods to our national parks.”

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“The UK’s wildlife is under pressure from loss of habitat.  But, we can all make a difference by gardening with wildlife in mind. We want to see nature reserves around the UK being connected through pockets of healthy habitat within the wider landscape, in both urban and rural areas.  Clearly, gardens are an essential part of this vision.  The Big Wildlife Garden competition aims to raise awareness of the role we can all play in becoming nature’s guardians.”

Dr Roger Williams, Head of Science RHS, said:

“Twenty years ago few people really thought about the importance of gardens for UK wildlife. Now we know how vital they are.

“The huge interest in our ‘Plants for Bugs’ research project and our ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ label initiative shows how this awareness has changed.  We encourage as many gardeners interested in wildlife to enter the competition as possible.”

Entries for the BWG competition can be submitted from today.  The competition closes on Sunday 20 May 2012.  Prizes include a wildlife gardening masterclass at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, where the prize-giving ceremony will take place, along with membership of The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society.

Sarah Raven, gardener, writer and television presenter, will be on the BWG competition judging panel.  She said: 

“I am really excited about the launch of this competition.  The more people we can get interested and involved in gardening that has a wildlife focus the better.  So many positive and easy-to-do things can be done to make gardens wildlife-friendly and running a competition like this will help raise awareness.”

The BWG website contains top wildlife gardening tips and links entrants to a community of gardeners throughout the UK, with a facility to view BWG entries in their locality.  It also includes a ‘My Garden’ page where information about gardens can be uploaded and stored.  To find out more visit the BWG website www.bigwildlifegarden.org.uk/wildlife-garden-competition.