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Back gardens helping to prevent environmental breakdown

New research reveals that domestic gardens are playing a big role in supporting biodiversity in towns and cities by providing food for pollinating insects.

The findings were published in the Journal of Ecology, off the back of a study led by academics at the University of Bristol. Astonishingly, the research found that gardens account for around 85 per cent of all nectar produced in urban areas.

The team behind the study were shocked to see just how much of a role gardens play in supporting life for bees, wasps and other insects in urban Britain. Just three gardens together help to produce a teaspoon of nectar, equivalent to more than a tonne to an adult human and enough to fuel thousands of bees.

Ecologist Nicholas Tew, lead author of the study, said:

We expected private gardens in towns and cities to be a plentiful source of nectar, but didn’t anticipate the scale of production would be to such an overwhelming extent. Our findings highlight the pivotal role they play in supporting pollinators and promoting biodiversity in urban areas across the country.

The University of Bristol worked closely with universities of Edinburgh and Reading and the Royal Horticultural Society to carry out the study, examining examined the nectar production in Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds and Reading.

The report highlights the secret power of our gardens in supporting life on the planet, which make up nearly one third of all the land in towns and cities – six times the area of parks. The study also found that even just having balconies and window boxes in densely urban areas can provide food for pollinators.

Nicholas Tew, who is also studying for his PhD in Ecology at the University of Bristol, says he hopes that the findings are also taken on board by developers for new housing.

Tew said:

It is vital that new housing developments include gardens and also important for gardeners to try to make sure their gardens are as good as possible for pollinators.

Image by Nicholas Tew