Environment

Biodiversity

As written perfectly on the National Trust website, the best way to describe biodiversity is this:

“Biodiversity is the amazing variety of life on Earth. It encompasses diversity on many levels; the vast number of species of plants and animals, the genetic diversity within and between these species and the different biomes and ecosystems of which they are part, including rainforest, tundra and desert. Biodiversity also includes the diversity within microscopic organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Another way to think about it is simply, ‘Big Nature!’” (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/what-is-biodiversity)

An example of biodiversity is sea otters in kelp forests along the California coast. Since sea otters feed on sea urchins and sea urchins feed on kelp, if sea otters were removed then that would allow the sea urchin population to multiply, eating large portions of the kelp forest. This would eventually destroy the habitat and lead to the death of other animals that live there, causing the ecosystem to fall apart.

Having a large biodiversity protects against a situation like this and makes ecosystems more resilient to change. In short, biodiversity maintains the balance of an ecosystem to keep them functioning and self-regulating.

There are numerous threats to biodiversity, such as habitat loss. This includes deforestation, oceans being polluted and the harvesting of many natural resources when not done sustainably. Another threat is land development. Over the last 100 years, urbanization has increased significantly and in turn this has destroyed natural habitats and increased noise and air pollution. When habitats change, animals flee the area or die, dramatically reducing the area’s biodiversity.

To help with Biodiversity, ESSCRP and their Station Adopters have set out to improve local stations by planting up gardens and installing bug hotels to attract wildlife and help sustain the environment.

Pictured on the left is one of the the many bug hotels we have installed at stations. This one is located at Bentley Station.

Bees

Ever wondered who helps make the food you eat? The answer would be Bees. It’s not just honey that they make, they help provide fruits and vegetables such as Broccoli, Apples and Tomatoes. Not just that, they bring your gardens to life by spreading pollen between different flowers and plants, allowing them to grow seeds and fruit. In fact, over 80% of flowers are pollinated by animals and mostly insects.

There are over 250 different types of bees, such as Solitary Bees, Honeybees and Bumblebees. But right now, bees are in serious trouble because in the last 10 years, the UKs population of bees has shrunk by about a third. This is because habitats are being destroyed, as well as changes to the climate and the use of pesticides.

Some of our stations have bug hotels, such as Wrabness and Alresford, with the aim of enticing insects and pollinators to the local gardens. We also have a Sculpture at Alresford Station, pictured on the right, with a bee making their home in there!

Wildflowers

Wildflowers are so important because they are a major part of the food chain for most of the animals and insects on our planet. They are a highly attractive food source for pollinating insects, such as Bees and Butterflies. In fact, many species of butterflies lay their eggs on wildflowers. Birds are also quite reliant on Wildflowers as the seeds are an important food source for them during the winter.

In terms of care, Wildflowers are easy to care for and you rarely need to add pesticides to them, as well as them preferring low fertility soil, meaning you don’t need to add any fertilisers. Like all plants, Wildflowers absorb CO2 and pollution from the air, which just adds to the many numbers of reasons why Wildflowers are so valuable to our planet.

Just by taking a walk outside and looking at the beauty of the natural world can help you in many ways, such as improving mental health and improving the general attitude towards the environment.

As most of our stations have Station Adopters, we have many Wildflower gardens and herb planters to help promote the environment to rail users and the public.

Pictured on the left is the border of Marks Tey Station, looking beautiful, vibrant and no doubt attracting lots of wildlife.