Nature in Suffolk
As a company based in the heart of the Suffolk countryside, Suffolk wildlife, (as well as nature in general), is something that we care very much about. We consider our garden to be a wildlife haven, as it attracts a variety of life, from ducks to frogs, from bees to beetles, and from dragonflies to herons! Recognising the role that nature holds in keeping the planet healthy is vital. Crucial, in fact.
We'll be writing about other environmental topics such as the amount of plastic in our oceans, how the meat industry is contributing to climate change, and the plight of the bees, but to start off our Earth Day campaign we're keeping things closer to home.
A once common sight in Suffolk gardens - country and town - is now much more of a rarity. Our prickly garden friends have seen a sharp decline in the last several decades and the most likely reasons for a dramatic loss in hedgehog populations is poor management of hedgerows, intensification of agriculture, and loss of habitat due to new roads and developments. Tragically, tens of thousands of hedgehogs are killed by road traffic each year. Hedgehogs can travel 2-3 kilometres per night so it is vital that they have interconnected areas for feeding, nesting, and hibernating.
The Suffolk Wildlife Trust's most recent survey has revealed that Suffolk's towns are an important stronghold for hedgehogs in the county. Ipswich has a network of parks and allotments which are very important for hedgehogs to be able to move around. The Suffolk Wildlife Trust will be working in the coming years to find out more about these populations, and how they can grow them further.
It was estimatedthat there were 30 million hedgehogs in the UK during
the 1950s, a recalculation in the 1990s suggested only 1.5 million
There are a few easy things you can do in your garden to make it hedgehog friendly:
- Leave part of your garden wild, with piles of logs and leaves.
- Hedgehogs can travel miles per night, so they need to be able to easily enter and exit gardens. Create a ‘nature corridor’ by making gaps beneath fences and gates.
- Do not feel hedgehogs bread or milk. Instead, leave them cat/dog food and water.
"The thing about hedgehogs is that they travel absolute miles.
Lovely as it is to have them in the garden, if they've got no corridor to
travel along, then they're not going to find enough food to eat."
- David Attenborough
Rewild the Child
In order to protect nature, we need to make sure our children are involved in the natural world. They must feel a part of nature, not apart from nature. Taking children into the natural environment can be hugely beneficial for their own growth and multiple studies have shown that by spending time in the countryside, children's long-term memory improves and they experience sharp improvements in attention.
A study run by the Wilderness Foundation UK found that troubled teenagers taken into the mountains had improvements in self-control, self-awareness, and behaviour.
The BBC reports that 95% of outdoor education funding has been cut. Instead of being encouraged to explore, observe and develop outdoors, children are forced into stuffy classrooms and made to take endless tests. This often results in children who are assumed to have 'behavioral problems', who then grow into frustrated teenagers, with no connection or love for the natural world. According to WideHorizons, 50% of children in the UK have never visited the countryside. Isn't that shocking and saddening?
So, without funding from the government for schools to take children on outside adventures, it falls on parents to ensure that their children get to experience the joys of the outside world. In Suffolk, there are so many adventures to be taken. Here are 5 brilliant things to do in Suffolk to get children and teenagers outside:
- Rendlesham Forest is an outstanding area of beauty: In the Spring, the forest starts to come alive with wildlife, and in the Autumn you can see a vast array of mushrooms, including beautiful (but poisonous) toadstools. Magical! -
- Crabbing at Walberswick: One of my favourite things to do when I was a kid was to head down to charming Walberswick with a bucket, some bait, and a line, and catch some crabs! Make sure you return them to the water after catching them.
- Minsmere Nature Reserve - This RSPB coastal reserve, and home of Springwatch, is a fantastic day out for families. Minsmere has everything you could want - Forest, beach, marshes, all with an amazing array of wildlife! There are lots of family friendly activities, and shorter walks for children.
- Hollow Trees Farm Trail - Hollow Trees Farm is packed full of life and adventure for little'uns, with lots of activities & plenty of animals to see from goats to geese, pigs and turkeys, chickens and cattle and friendly alpacas. Around every corner is something more to see and do and the trail is open all year round.
- Go Ape in Thetford - An excellent day out for teenagers, Go Ape features 30 miles of bike and walking trails, with tree-top adventures, a forest segway, and a fantastically exhilarating zip line!
In Suffolk, we are fortunate to live in a county which has easily accessible nature from almost anywhere, and so many fun days out. Did you know that studies have found a correlation between spending time in nature and improved mental health? Taking part in nature-based activities can massively help people suffering from anxiety, stress, and depression.
There really is no excuse not to get outside! What will you do this weekend?