November 30 2007
Wildlife needs water, too
Water restrictions and drought are not only having an impact on humans and their gardens – they are making life tough for our urban wildlife, too.
Now, we also need to water wisely for the sake of our birds, butterflies and lizards, according to UniSA’s Professor of Environmental Ecology, Chris Daniels.
“In the past we’ve protected birds, butterflies and lizards incidentally when we watered our garden. Now we need to look after wildlife by being directly involved,” Prof Daniels said.
Bird baths and dishes of water are simple ways of ensuring animals can get a drink. But choosing which plants and shrubs need to be watered is equally important.
“It’s actually all about how we use water out of a watering can to choose which of our plants are the strongest flowering, which are the ones that offer shelter so animals can get in and away from the hot summer sun,” Prof Daniels said.
“Hedges, for example, allow birds to get away from the heat. Bushes also create their own climate. There’s more water in the air inside a really thick bush or hedge than there is outside of it. The whole climate can be much more benign deep inside a thick bush than we really expect.”
With much of our natural bush cleared from the city and hills environment, and with ponds and creeks dry, Prof Daniels said much of our backyard wildlife has little choice but to make the most of their urban habitat.
“Probably their best chance is to stay put. There’s still a little bit of water around. There’s still a great variation in flowering plants and particularly in people’s backyards. And there are steps we can all take to help them survive a long dry summer.”
Some of Prof Daniels’ waterwise tips to help wildlife include:
- Installing a bird bath
- Leaving water dishes out in both front and backyards and filling them regularly
- Watering your garden’s strongest flowering plants
- Identifying and watering those bushes and shrubs in your garden in which animals tend to shelter
- Adding lots of leaf litter and garden mulch – it is a haven for insects which are food for many birds, and helps the ground retain water. “Don’t put anything in your green recycle bin that cannot be mulched and put back on your garden!”
“Instead of just not worrying about it, we now need to think how can we provide the resources for the animals that have come to this city that have got stuck here because we’ve cleared all the natural bush.
“There’s nowhere else for them to go and they are really going to suffering unless we take control of it.”
Contact for interview
- Prof Chris Daniels office (08) 8302 2307 mobile 0410 422 759 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Vincent Ciccarello office (08) 8302 0578 mobile 0434 603 457 email