Improving Bio-diversity in the South-West

Published: 15th May 2023 | Written by: Grace Coles

Attracting songbirds to your garden

Many birds feed on beetles, aphids and ants. By being less tidy and encouraging wildflowers, our gardens will support the creatures which these birds come to eat. Leaving weeds in your lawn and mowing less frequently in May and June allows the lawn plants to flower, providing valuable nectar for our native bees and pollinating insects.

Recent studies have shown that gardeners who use weed killer containing glyphosate (such as Roundup and Gallup) have fewer songbirds in their gardens. Birds may eat plants or insects contaminated with the pesticides, and the chemicals also reduce the availability of seeds and insects.

South Hams District Council, in its Climate Change and Biodiversity Action Plan, is encouraging members of the public to look at alternatives to using herbicides and pesticides, in particular glyphosate, to protect biodiversity. The use of pesticides is not necessary in our gardens. Let’s ditch the spray and save our songbirds!

Protecting our rivers

Four in five rivers in the South West are affected by pollution from urban industry, sewage discharges from South West Water, and run-off pollution from agricultural land.

The poor water quality of our rivers and seas impacts our health and wellbeing, affects local tourism and is devastating to the wildlife that lives there. It is also contributing to increasing carbon emissions. Each year, oceans absorb 20-35% of our CO2 emissions, but can only do this if the plants and animals that live in them are healthy.

To improve water quality, water companies must make up for the years of lack of investment in our wastewater infrastructure by rapidly investing now.

 What can we all do to help?

  • Reduce the amount of wastewater that leaves our homes to reduce pressure on storm overflows.
  • Prevent fats and oils going down the sink.
  • Never dispose of wet wipes or other plastics in toilets.
  • Choose water permeable surfaces for our gardens and driveways to allow rainwater to drain away.

We can also support grassroots groups calling for change: The Rivers Trust (; WildFish (; and River Action UK ( are good places to start.