New role to help increase biodiversity in gardens

RHS create post to study how to bring nature into people's lives through gardening

Carder bee
Gemma Golding has joined the Plant Health team as Senior Ecologist, having previously worked as a senior ecology and sustainability consultant. The focus of the role is to develop recommendations to increase biodiversity in gardens across the UK. Gemma’s appointment follows that of Helen Bostock as Senior Wildlife Specialist. Together their work will help bring nature into people’s lives through gardening and reaffirms the RHS’ commitment to meet the Net Positive for Nature Target, set out in the RHS’ 2021 Sustainability Strategy.

Threatened species

A stag beetleGemma, who will be based at RHS Garden Wisley, will help coordinate ecological surveys targeting some of the many habitats and species found within the gardens.

Some of the threatened species found in the RHS gardens include the hazel dormouse at RHS Garden Rosemoor, stag beetle at RHS Garden Wisley, lesser redpoll at RHS Garden Harlow Carr and RHS Garden Bridgewater and shrill carder bee at RHS Garden Hyde Hall. Gemma will also develop research projects that investigate the impacts gardening practices can have on wildlife.

Wildlife habitats

Amphibians, butterflies, breeding birds, bumblebees and other terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates are included within the study as they indicate overall biodiversity levels on sites and can help determine the health of a habitat. The data collected from these surveys will be vital to show trends and the ways in which actions in the gardens are improving wildlife numbers.

“Gardening can create fantastic wildlife habitats and help reverse biodiversity declines”

Alistair Griffiths, RHS Director of Science, said: “Our research shows that gardens and gardening can create fantastic wildlife habitats and help reverse biodiversity declines, and research into best practise can only boost the value our plots have.
The Senior Ecologist role is an exciting and important one for the RHS, as it will contribute further to our Biodiversity Targets set out in the Sustainability Strategy and build on previous research quantifying the positive impact our gardens are having on nature - and we look forward to sharing new results with the UK’s 30 million gardeners.”

Key research

The ecologist role builds on partnerships and research such as Wild About Gardens with The Wildlife Trusts, RHS Plants for Bugs and the RHS Plants for Pollinators list, and comes alongside a raft of on-going wildlife-friendly habitat creation across all five gardens, in particular the Wildlife Garden at RHS Garden Wisley, opened in 2020.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.