A poster campaign by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust got us all thinking. The questions were simple: “When did you last see a honey bee?” “When did you last see a hedgehog? A stag beetle? A slow worm?” As city-dwellers, we accept the fact that we rarely encounter nature in our urban environment as normal. But the steep decline in UK wildlife since the 1970s is not normal. On Francis Avenue we’re taking small steps that we hope will encourage wildlife to return to our gardens and make our street a more pleasant place to live.
Portsmouth's First Wild Street
Who are we?
Francis Avenue is a residential street in Southsea. This part of Portsmouth is densely populated and there is very little shared green space. So we, the residents of Francis Avenue, decided to grow Portsmouth’s first Wild Street. The idea behind our wild street is to help nature to recover in our gardens and forecourts. Individually these areas are small but, joined up, they represent a valuable resource for wildlife and a green corridor that we hope will benefit humans too.
What have we done (so far)?
- We’ve installed a bin shelter in our paved forecourt. It’s a free-standing table that our wheelie bins slide underneath. The top has a ‘green roof’ with herbs and other plants to attract pollinators.
- The Trinity Methodist Church has added a bug hotel (a repurposed bedside cabinet) and planters in its grounds.
- We’ve been telling others about our plans. This has included social media activity using the #WilderPortsmouth hashtag and attending the Portsmouth climate strike, where we organised a stall and a plant giveaway.
- We’ve taken part in a training day provided by the Trust. This enabled us to network with organisers of other projects in our area and to share ideas and experience.
- We’ve started to grow plants for our gardens from seed. We plan to share these with neighbours and use this as a way to encourage more people to join.
The wild street has appealed especially to children, who have brought lots of ideas to the project. They show a strong connection with nature and a desire to take action to protect it. This experience has shown me, not only that children are committed and effective advocates of our wild street, but also that they get a lot of enjoyment from the work they are doing.
What's in our future?
We are very encouraged by the level of interest shown by residents, Portsmouth City Council and the local press. Looking to the future, there are lots of possibilities. We would like to explore the idea of linking gardens with hedgehog holes. We would also like to develop partnerships with the wider community, including local schools. This will take time to achieve but we are delighted to have made a start on a positive action that will benefit our wildlife, our street, and our city.
Let's create a Wilder Future
We’ve reached a point where our natural world is in critical condition and needs our help to put it into recovery.It’s not too late to bring our wildlife back, but we must act now.
Join our campaign for a #WilderFuture and take simple actions for nature’s recovery.