Nigel’s Notes - We can all do our bit to help

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds were in the Scottish Parliament last week promoting their “Give nature a home” campaign.

Their point is simply that our wildlife needs a wide variety of habitats and that some of these are one way or another under threat; and that we can all do our bit to help.

By chance last week I was also looking through a report which gave a perspective on the risk to the wider ecology of the present epidemic of ash die back disease.

The thing I had not previously appreciated is that there are hundreds or organisms: fungi, moulds, insects etc which are generally present in and around ash trees and are largely absent from other tree species. In short: there are far more connections within nature than we will ever work out and every species counts.

Now I appreciate that some of us feel there are more slugs and snails around than we would ever want to count, and more than can possibly be good for anything we are trying to grow.

I note that our garden doesn’t suffer from slugs and snails, but then we have birds. Birds like breakfast that they can pick off the plants and flag stones; better still breakfast which even advertises itself with a sticky stream.

Fortunately we have a corner plot which gives us more scope than some folk, and one side of the house is deliberately kept “wild.” Though, of course, even this requires management.

Docks will not be allowed to run to seed, and creeping buttercup - which I think made an appearance courtesy of some manure - is ruthlessly dealt with. It shall not win! What are the RSPB asking us all to do? Well it’s more than just put up a bird box or scatter some bread on the lawn in the depths of winter.

What they want us to do is to protect the variety of our environment. They reckon we can all do something to help, and the choice is ours.

Which reminds me that we also have a choice soon about who should be responsible for the wider management of our country.

I’m very happy that you leave us to look after our garden, and I would not dream of telling you what to do with yours. On the same basis I suggest we Scots might be best placed to run Scotland.