Make space for nature text accompanied by illustrations of a blackbird, ladybird and frog

Ten ways to make space for nature in your life this spring

Many of us spent more time outdoors and experienced mental and physical health benefits from spending time in nature during lockdown. Spring is a wonderful season to help us maintain these good habits and build appreciation of the natural world into daily life.

Caring for nature not only helps us, it can help tackle climate change, ensuring a healthier and greener Scotland.

bluetit on branch

1. Help our feathered friends

Birds are busy building the perfect homes for their chicks. As well as some lazy gardening - such as not pruning bushes containing nests, and leaving some nest-building debris lying around - you may have space for a bird box or bird feeders.

Conservation volunteer planting wildflowers ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

2. Nature needs us

Fight climate change by doing your bit. Help conserve our peatlands - Scotland’s most vital carbon store - by using only peat-free products in your garden. Help alleviate flooding in your local area by reducing the paving in your garden. 

Bumble Bee feeding Ragwort flower heads ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

3. Feed the bees

Avoid cutting your grass until mid-April, after the dandelions have flowered but before they set seed, as they're an important food source for all types of pollinators. Avoid pruning any spring-flowering trees or shrubs and enjoy more nature in your garden.

4. We need nature

Many of us report health and wellbeing benefits after being outdoors. We de-stress, unwind, feel energised, and our physical health is improved. If working from home, try and take time for a daily walk, cycle or mindful minute - you won't regret it. Enjoy this dawn chorus mindful minute, filmed during the spring, whenever you can. Healthy people need healthy nature.

5. Plant for pollinators

Spring can be tricky for pollinators as they emerge from hibernation. Aim to have pollinator-friendly plants flowering in your garden around March. The beauty of emerging flowers is a classic sign that winter is finally over, providing a welcome boost to the spirits. Whether it’s snowdrops, bluebells or primroses, the impact is the same - spring has sprung and summer is on the way! 

lady looking through binoculars out to sea

6. Give some time

Plenty of organisations would love your help but much volunteering is suspended unless it can be done within current Covid restrictions. Search for current opportunities or consider what you could do once restrictions ease.

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), Battleby, March 2014. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

7. Be part of something

Submit sightings of birds, mammals, amphibians, insects, plants and more, or report any invasive non native species. It's really easy and fun for all - plus many surveys can be done via your smart phone. You really can make a difference.

Girl photographing bluebells flowers

8. Learning outdoors

Most of us want our kids to spend more time outdoors. Try a nature hunt, spot the fern unfurling, snowdrops or buds appearing, download bird ID apps....or simply listen to the bird song, and look out a window and take in the seasonal changes. 

9. Provide a pond

Frogs, toads and newts all wake-up from hibernation in the spring to search for homes and mates, and all can thrive in garden ponds. As well as frogs and toads a pond can attract newts, dragonflies and much more. If a pond isn't possible, even using an old washing up bowl of water or a deep saucer of water on a windowsill can help.

10. Feed local wildlife

Keep feeders regularly topped up and remember to provide water too. To attract a range of garden birds try putting out seed mixes, sunflower hearts, meal worms, soft apples and pears, and even mild grated cheese.  Avoid bread, peanuts and fat at this time as these can be a choking hazard and harmful if adult birds feed them to their young.