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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Ulster Wildlife and Hughes Insurance calling 5,000 homes to ‘Let Nature In’

Daisy wildflowers

Ulster Wildlife, in partnership with Hughes Insurance, has launched its 2023 ‘Let Nature In’ campaign and is calling on an ambitious 5,000 households across Northern Ireland to get involved.


The annual wildlife gardening campaign comes at a critical time as one in ten species in Northern Ireland is at risk of extinction including once common garden visitors such as hedgehogs and house sparrows.

 


Households can sign up to share their garden and receive educational tips on how to attract wildlife to their outdoor spaces – gardens, terraces and balconies - such as providing water and natural food sources for hedgehogs, or planting native flowers to ensure insects have enough nectar to feed on.


One way to attract more bees and butterflies, Ulster Wildlife says, is to plant native species such as foxgloves, honeysuckle and clover. To help hedgehogs, households are advised to avoid using slug pellets and pesticides, and leave areas of long grass for foraging, or create log or leaf piles.


Providing natural shelter such as trees, hedges and long grass, or erecting bird, bee, or bat boxes can also create suitable homes for wildlife. Finally, keeping a bird feeder clean and topped up with fresh drinking and bathing water will help garden birds thrive.

 


In 2022, 1469 households across the province took part in Let Nature In. Dawn Miskelly, Director of Development and Governance at Ulster Wildlife, says the initiative has the potential to make a huge difference to helping bring nature back.

 

She explains: “Northern Ireland is home to a wealth of wildlife, but sadly it’s in trouble with the list of ‘under threat, increasingly rare and important’ species haven risen from 481 to 594 over the past 12 years. Collectively, gardens make up more land than all of the UK’s nature reserves – that’s why we are asking households to take action and help create a network of nature-friendly spaces that wildlife so desperately needs to survive.

 


“Our ‘Let Nature In’ campaign provides all the information you need to get started and we will show you just how easy it can be to create inviting outdoor spaces for people and nature to dwell. We’re very grateful to have the support of Hughes Insurance this year, and we look forward to working together to encourage and educate households to get involved to support nature recovery in Northern Ireland.”

 

Hughes Insurance has partnered with Ulster Wildlife as part of its Action for Impact initiative – a £100,000 commitment to various charities and organisations to deliver on its Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG)agenda in 2023 and beyond. The initiative, specifically designed to support communities, create positive environmental impact and improve employee wellbeing, will also see Hughes’ 225 employees commit to delivering over 3,000 hours of volunteering across the province, known as Action Days.

 


Bernie McHugh Sonner, Director of Operations and Customer Services at Hughes Insurance, commented on the significance of the partnership:


“At Hughes Insurance, we are committed to making a positive impact in our local community and beyond, so directing resource and attention to ESG is a priority for our business. We see ‘Let Nature In’ as an important initiative that can make a real difference to our environment, and we are delighted to be partnering with Ulster Wildlife to support its goal of getting 5000 households involved including our own staff. We’re also looking forward to working with more partners throughout the year and contributing to further positive social change. By working together, we can create a more sustainable future for all.”


Ulster wildlife let nature in graphic

Five great reasons to add a mini wildflower meadow to your garden:


  1. It's easy! Even a windowbox scattered with wildflower seed can make a great 'window meadow'.

  2. Wildflowers are a fantastic source of nectar for butterflies and other pollinators.

  3. Long grass provides a habitat for a whole range of insects.

  4. It makes a great pit-stop for wildife travelling from place to place.

  5. You might even be lucky enough to attract hedgehogs on the hunt for insects in your wild patch!



How to Create a Mini Wildflower Meadow 


Select a small area of your garden that is open, has grass and gets lots of sunshine. From there, there are two main ways to make a mini meadow. 


  1. The easiest way is to DO NOTHING! Don’t mow, let it grow! By not cutting the grass, you allow the wildflowers that are in the natural seed bank to begin to sprout. To maintain your meadow, cut in the autumn/winter and remove the cuttings – this helps keep grasses from dominating over the wildflowers. 

  2. The more labour-intensive method is to reseed an area with wildflower seeds. Strip the grass or scratch back the topsoil to make some bare ground. Seed with a native wildflower mix in spring or autumn. Again, cut your meadow in the autumn/winter and remove the cuttings. 


Find out more on how to make and manage your mini meadow by CLICKING HERE to sign up to Let Nature In!


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