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Help Nature Thrive Campaign

Help Nature Thrive Campaign

Keep Wildlife Wild
Leave No Trace
The Royal Parks have launched a campaign to run throughout the summer with key objectives:

1: To remind visitors that the Parks are important refuges for nature and encourage them to adopt behaviour to help nature thrive.

2: To raise awareness of the threats to biodiversity in both parks (for example climate change, increased visitor footfall, spread of plant and animal diseases).

3: To publicise what The Royal Parks are doing to help nature in the face of these challenges.

The campaign is about education, not enforcement.

Keep Wildlife Wild
The message is to observe wildlife in their natural habitat, not to feed or touch them.

This part of the campaign will run until the end of July and the message will spread through the press, social media, signs, TRP website homepage and E-newsletter and organisations, such as ours, where we are in regular contact with our members who are supporters of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Leave No Trace
will run from the end of July to the beginning of September. This campaign is timed to coincide with the school holidays and will focus on litter, not leaving rubbish behind, barbecues and being sensitive to where our visitors choose to walk, picnic and settle.

“Help Nature Thrive” by not feeding wildlife.
Hyde Park has almost 13 million visitors a year and Kensington Gardens about 11 million. Their popularity results in high volumes of animal feeding which is upsetting the Parks’ delicate ecosystem.

Excessive feeding encourages large groups of birds such as gulls and crows. They bully other birds, steal their eggs and kill their chicks. Leftover food encourages rats, water quality is impacted by soggy bread and faeces from the overly large wildfowl population. Over-crowding of this group leads to stress and wildlife diseases are spread.
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Our members will have noticed the wonderful wildflower meadows in both Parks, and the development of reed beds and areas of natural woodland, both round the Serpentine and the Long Water.

Members have also commented on, and worried about, the excessive feeding of some groups, for example the ring-necked parakeets. The crowds doing the feeding cause damage with their feet (co
mpaction and loss of trees) and the birds strip newly fruiting and flowering trees, reducing feeding suitable for smaller bird species to thrive.

As the larger more aggressive birds thrive and multiply, the smaller native breeds are now noticeably fewer. And, round these areas of frenzied feeding, gulls, squirrels, pigeons and crows gather to consume all the waste food on the ground.

Squirrels are fed in their hundreds around certain areas, for example the South Flower Walk, where they are looked on as cuddly cute little things. They are effective strippers of bark which kills trees and consume smaller birds eggs.

Swans are noticeably around now in huge numbers. I have stood near to Peter Pan and lost count, and many of you too may have thought that you are seeing an awful lot more than there were a few years ago. Your eyes were not deceiving you. In 1990 there were 13 swans in both Parks. In 2020 a survey recorded 175. The size of the body of water and availability of safe and suitable habitat means only three pairs can successfully breed. The flock is now very unbalanced in its makeup with two or three dominant cobs bullying the rest.

The noticeably larger number of herons are there because of feeding. They would normally fly over large areas, and there are plenty of watery spots both in central and west London to feed and settle. In all cases, the numbers of smaller native birds are declining as the large species grow artificially.

Transect Surveys were carried out in 2004 in Hyde Park and there were 45 carrion crows. By 2019 this number had increased to 500.

Small children have, for generations, loved to go to the parks to feed the ducks but perhaps it’s time to look at the ducks, observe them and try to spot some rarities, amongst all the more natural areas of vegetation which is being carefully managed along the borders of the Long Water and Serpentine.

With all the sensitive development of areas in both Parks to feed and nurture a wide variety of all bird species, there is no need for extra feeding. Reduction in numbers (of the dominant species of birds and animals) would be a good thing, and it would be a pleasure to listen to song and sounds from small native birds.

Admirably, the Royal Parks’ teams are committed to this programme and we are supporting them. There is much more on their website including competitions and fun things for children to look out for.

We have no volunteer rangers in Hyde or Kensington Gardens though, so introducing these “new” ideas to visitors may not be all that easy.

You can help by passing on the message to neighbours, friends and family.

Sue Price
Chairman
contact@friendshpkg.org.uk

Acknowledgements for the photographs in order of appearance:
Nigel Pleming
Paul Shelley
John Foldes x 2
Paul Shelley
John Foldes x 3
June Mangan
John Foldes

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