A site such as Egrove lends itself to wildlife, so the obvious route is to manage it for wildlife while keeping a balance between truly wild elements and the more ornamental areas which we have around the accommodation and main buildings or, as we refer to it, ‘front of house’. These areas are a bit more manicured and have planned planting schemes, but the planting is still chosen for its benefits to wildlife.
As the grounds consist of ponds, woodlands, wildflower meadows and lots of specimen trees, we have a variety of wildlife habitats which have always been present – so why do we feel that we need to enhance what we already have?
I think most people are aware of the issues facing wildlife in the world, the loss of habitats, the decline of various species, but perhaps not the scale of the challenges.
“Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of species declined, with 40% showing strong or moderate declines. 44% of species increased, with 29% showing strong or moderate increases. Between 2002 and 2013, 53% of species declined and 47% increased. These measures were based on quantitative trends for almost 4,000 terrestrial and freshwater species in the UK. Of the nearly 8,000 species assessed using modern Red List criteria, 15% are extinct or threatened with extinction from Great Britain.”
This report alone is reason enough to make space for wildlife in your gardens, but what are the other benefits of wildlife gardening? I believe the benefits are:
•Sheer enjoyment of gardening
•Discovering new plants naturally growing
•Improving fitness, keeping people active
•The pleasure of watching the flora and fauna grow
•Increasing and developing your knowledge of the natural world
•For your mental health and wellbeing
I could write pages and pages about the wildlife management, flora and fauna of Egrove Park, which wildlife-friendly plants we use, where and why, and perhaps I will, but this is an article about the benefits of managing wildlife for all who make use of the site.
Egrove is where Saïd Business School delivers its Executive Education programmes. We run intensive residential business courses which keep staff and participants busy for the best part of the day. In modern society working days are busier than ever, and quite often the gap between work and home life narrows so that they almost merge into one. People don’t get much time to truly relax and take time out for themselves. Do we really separate ourselves from work? Do we ever really switch off?
Part of the problem is certainly at work: when people do walk outside at lunchtime, they rarely stray off the tarmac, or they walk around looking at their mobile phones, not at their surroundings. This needs to be encouraged to change. An example of this was when I saw Egrove’s residential roe deer family on the edge of the woods, two adults and a fawn. A group of people walked past, chatting and mostly looking down, and no one looked up and saw them, even though I was waving my arms around trying to get their attention.