Ideas for action

Sharing, with permission, ideas from Dave Goulson’s latest wonderful book, “Silent Earth”, below we reflect on something each and every one of us can do so support natural pollinators, local biodiversity, and sustainable, natural living.

  • We need to engender a society that values the natural world, both for what it does for us and for its own sake.
  • Spread the word by any means at your disposal, use whatever platform you prefer to share interesting stories, activities, campaigns about insects and post about you and others are doing to help. Encourage your friends and neighbours to make their garden more insect friendly and to consider positive actions
  • Imagine green cities filled with trees, vegetable gardens, ponds and wildflowers squeezed into every available space and all free from pesticides. We can transform our urban areas and what better time to start than right now, in our gardens.
  • Let us grow flowers that are particularly rich in nectar and pollen to encourage pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies. Lots of advice is readily available in Dave Goulson’s previous book, The Garden Jungle. Garden centres often label pollinator friendly plants, but beware that these plants often contain insecticides. You might want to try out the Bumblebee conservation trust “bee kind” tool to see how bee friendly your garden is.
  • Grow food plants for butterflies and moths such as lady’s smock, bird’s foot tree foil, ivy and nettles.
  • Let us reduce our frequency of mowing – allow your lawn (or part of it) to flower. You may be surprised by how many different flowers are already living in your lawn.


  • You could go one step further and create your own miniature wild flower meadow. Simply stop cutting a patch of your lawn apart from an annual cut in September and see what happens. A mix of long grass and (usually) some flowers will appear which you can enhance by planting in more meadow wildflowers.
  • Let’s try and re-imagine ’weeds’ such as dandelion as wildflowers and save yourself an awful lot of time spent weeding by allowing them to grow. “Weedy” plants like dandelions, ragwort, hogweed and herb Robert are great flowers for pollinators.When wooden fence panels rot and collapse, as they inevitably do after a few years, replace them with a hedge of mixed, native species. This is permeable to wildlife such as hedgehogs, provides food for caterpillars and pollinators, captures carbon as it grows and never needs replacing.
  • let’s buy or make a bee hotel, a fun project that children can be involved in. Lots of advice can be found online. In brief, all you need to do is create horizontal dead end holes of about 8mm diameter, either by drilling into a block of wood or by bundling bamboo canes.Dig a pond and watch how quickly it is colonised by dragonflies, whirligig beetles, newts and pond skaters. Even tiny ponds, made by recycling an old sink or other waterproof container, can support abundant life. Make sure it’s easy for any animal that falls in to climb out
  • let’s create a “hoverfly lagoon”, a small aquatic habitat for hoverflies to breed in. For advice on how to visit your own healthy, zero food miles, fruit and veg. Every lettuce or carrot you grow saves you money and removes all the environmental costs of the food being grown elsewhere, packaged transported to your plate.
  • let’s plant a fruit tree. These are available in dwarf sizes suitable for tiny gardens. Fruit trees provide blossom for pollinators and fresh fruit for you. There’s a mouth watering array to choose from, apples, pears, plums, quince, apricot, mulberry, peach, fig and more.Avoid pesticide use in your garden, they really aren’t necessary. If you simply leave pests alone, usually a ladybird or hoverfly larva or lacewing will come along and eat them before too long. If you have ornamental plants that are continually being attacked, you are possibly trying to grow the wrong plant. Weeds can be either accepted as wildflowers, hand weeded or an old carpet of other impenetrable material can be used to smother them.
  • let’s use companion planting to encourage pollination of vegetable crops and to attract natural enemies of crop pests. For example, French marigolds, to help deter whitefly from tomatoes and borage attracts pollinators to strawberries.Leave a wild corner for nature where you do nothing at all: your own tiny rewinding project.
  • let’s provide a brash pile or log pile, leaving the wood to moulder down, sprouting fungi and supporting a myriad of tiny decomposes.Build a compost heap and recycle kitchen scraps, generating your own fertile compost while providing a home for worms, wood lice, millipedes and more.
  • let’s grow and transport food so that we all have something to eat. The way we do it has profound impacts on our own welfare and on the environment, so it’s surely worth getting it right. There is an urgent need to overhaul the current system which is failing us in multiple ways. We could have a vibrant farming sector employing many more people and focused on sustainable production of health food, looking after soil health and supporting biodiversity.Join us at Kendal Farmers Market on the last Friday of every month to find out about the wonderful work being done by some of our local farmers to increase biodiversity on their land, meet the producers and share in their enthusiasm
  • let’s join our local wildlife trust or one of the many national conservation charities devoted to conservation. Your money will help support their work. If you have time, get actively involved. The wildlife trusts have extensive volunteer networks which involve diverse activities from practical management of nature reserves to enthusing schools groups or helping with admin tasks.Let’s believe that you can make a difference, no one is too small to make a massive impact, take small steps such as those outlined, do what you can, and together we can watch our natural pollinators thrive and natural biodiversity flourish in our gardens and neighbourhoods