How to make Hertfordshire wildlife a priority this year
PUBLISHED: 16:51 18 February 2019
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s Frieda Rummenhohl encourages us to make wildlife one of our priorities in the year ahead – without taking on too much
After the flurry of festivities around Christmas and New Year, now is a good time to take stock of the year just gone and to look forward to the year ahead. New year resolutions are ever-popular, with around one in five of us pledging to change our lives in one way or another each year. The most popular ones are losing weight, exercising more and saving money. However, the majority of us fail to stick with it – often because we take on too much. But resolutions don’t have to be daunting and they’re easy to keep when you enjoy them. It’s important to focus on one or two major goals and lay out steps toward reaching them.
Evolution of resolutions
New year resolutions have been around for a long time. Scholars argue the custom originated in ancient Babylon, some 4,000 years ago. Babylonians made an annual promise to pay their debts and return borrowed items. If they kept these promises, the gods would bestow favour on them.
A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome. Named for Janus, the double-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for Romans. Believing that the god looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.
Nowadays, our promises are usually directed at ourselves – almost always focussed on self-improvement. This year, why not take a different approach and pledge to help wildlife? Small actions can make a big difference and you will likely find that what is good for nature is also good for you. It might also help you achieve other goals like exercising more and spending less money.
Getting outside and enjoying wildlife is proven to help improve physical and mental health. Adding in outdoor time to your schedule is easy and can be done in different ways. You could leave the car at home a couple of days a week and cycle or walk to work or head off for a big ramble on the weekend. You will quickly notice the benefits to your health and wellbeing.
In Hertfordshire more than half our domestic water comes directly from local rivers and their underground sources. Chalk streams are incredibly rare and we are lucky that we have a large proportion of them in the county. But they are under threat and every drop you save at home will be one drop more in these precious habitats.
The joy of experiencing wildlife is just that – it’s wild. But we need to respect it. When encountering a wild animal disturb it as little as possible. Keep your distance, respect their space and don’t feed them. The adage of leaving only footprints and taking away what you brought with you is key. That way we can make sure wildlife stays wild.
Pick it up
Sadly, many people don’t care about nature and dump their litter and other rubbish in the environment. This is not only unsightly but can also have a serious impact on wildlife. Consider bringing a bin bag on your walks and pick up what you find. It doesn’t take much, but the more people do it, the more enjoyable our countryside becomes, for us and for wildlife.
Take family & friends
Give the gift of wildlife this year and introduce your friends and family to your favourite spots. Invite them on walks or hunker down together in a hide and try to spot rare birds on our nature reserves. Enjoy quality time with your loved ones in nature.
Volunteering is a great way to support wildlife. Volunteers are the lifeblood of any charity and make a huge difference. Whether volunteering on a reserve, in the office or at events, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) has many different volunteering opportunities.
Join your Wildlife Trust
HMWT is the leading voice for wildlife in Hertfordshire. It manages a network of nature reserves covering around 2,000 acres all over the county. Become a member to support and get closer to wildlife. Join during the limited new year’s membership offer and save 50 per cent on membership. Find out more at hertswildlifetrust.org.uk