If you want a resolution for 2022, try something green

7 Jan 2022 Ryan Miller    Last updated: 7 Jan 2022

Photo by Preston Browning on Unsplash
Photo by Preston Browning on Unsplash

Climate change and ecological breakdown require collective solutions but that doesn’t mean individuals can’t help - and, in doing so, help themselves too.


One in ten native species in Northern Ireland is endangered.

Our local ecology, much like the rest of the UK and many places around the world, is in steady decline.

The reasons for this are numerous. Climate change plays a huge part, but carbon emissions are not the only issue. Other pollution, short-termism from governments, and short-sighted planning decisions all contribute.

There is no individual fix for climate change or broader ecological decline, trends that are massive and require a collective approach.

However, that doesn’t mean that nothing is gained if you plant a box on your windowsill full of herbs.

The local environment gets a tiny – but nonetheless real – little boost; you get fresh rosemary and thyme, and the sense of craft and achievement that comes from getting your fingers green.

And, if lots of people try something like this, all those tiny boosts can add up to something more meaningful.

This is the rationale behind Let Nature In, Ulster Wildlife’s year-long campaign that launched last year and will run until April.

Let Nature In

Whether you live in an urban or rural area, there is always something you can do to green up your home.

This could have a real benefit for many of the wild animals that can be found in Northern Irish gardens and which are under threat from habitat loss, pesticide use and the climate crisis – including hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs.

As part of its new strategic plan, Ulster Wildlife wants 30% of Northern Ireland’s land and seas to be managed for nature’s recovery by 2030, which is in support of the UN Convention on Biodiversity.

The organisation says that recovery is ultimately about turning decline into abundance, with healthier animals and plants supported by good-quality, safe habitats that are properly connected together.

The 30% figure for habitat cover stems from scientific estimates which say this is the minimum to allow natural recovery.

Ulster Wildlife says that more nature-friendly government policies are a vital part of making recovery happen, alongside active initiatives like peatland restoration, and also the help of the general public, to create greener spaces in villages, towns and cities across NI using rooftops, windowsills, wildflower verges, hedgerows, ponds and more. In short, making the most of the spaces we have.

Across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it is estimated that there are 24 million gardens in total.

Combined, they make up more land than all of the UK’s nature reserves and, according to Ulster Wildlife, have an enormous potential to help nature recover.

Change is possible

Dawn Miskelly, Director of Engagement at Ulster Wildlife, said: “With nature in trouble, it’s so important that we use every single space to give wildlife a fighting chance, including our gardens. Gardens are a crucial part of the jigsaw puzzle, acting as stepping stones and green corridors for wildlife to move between larger wild spaces.

“Your garden doesn’t have to be a wild and messy jungle for wildlife to thrive; it can be a mosaic of mini habitats that come together to create a beautiful space, for both people and wildlife.

“Whether you’ve a large garden or tiny balcony, everybody can play their part – collectively we can do so much to give nature a boost and now’s the time to get started!”

New Year’s resolutions are passé. The term conjures thoughts about a menu of broken promises, like year-long gym memberships that never get used after February. At the same time, people do like to change, especially if such a change is rewarding and good for wellbeing.

Nature reserves are invaluable but broad ecological health cannot be achieved if those reserves are isolated pockets of verdancy surrounded by something much less vibrant.

Wildlife and wild places do not exist only for their own sake, they are vital for the wellbeing of people too. Nature is not a luxury.

Managing a garden, even one as simple as a single window box, can be very rewarding. It doesn’t have to be stressful, or take up a huge amount of time. It doesn’t have to be an unrealistic, life-upending promise that many new year’s resolutions tend to be.

So, what about a bit of gardening this Spring?

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