Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Oddie's oasis: a garden haven for wild visitors

11 March, 2013 - 16:15 -- World Land Trust
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Dan Bradbury, WLT’s newly appointed Digital Communication Manager, found a meeting with Bill Oddie just a little thought provoking.

Just one month into my new job at World Land Trust (WLT), I was asked to go to London for a meeting with one of my heroes - Bill Oddie - at his house.

Bill, the writer, comedian, birdwatcher and conservationist - one of the TV Goodies in the 1970s – and WLT council member, had agreed to shoot a video for WLT's limerick competition. It fell to yours truly to do the job.

Garden fly-bys and hilarious out-takes

As we're both outdoors types we decided that the best place to film would be in the garden. Bill’s garden is like no other I have ever seen - a colourful and vibrant collection of wind chimes, plastic animals, bird feeders, signs and wood carvings.

With so much going on in Bill’s garden, you’d think there wouldn’t be much room for wildlife, but on the contrary. While we were filming there were several wild visitors, the highlight being Ring Necked Parakeets, one for my Year List. In fact making a film of Bill reading a few limericks for WLT was something of a challenge because of the distraction of garden fly-bys and hilarious out-takes.

Buying land to protect wildlife

Once we had filmed the poetry reading, Bill suggested we record another piece about his garden. I was unsure at first, not knowing what he was going to say. But, as soon as he began to talk, all became clear.

Bill knows that his garden isn't everybody's cup of tea, but, after all, it is his piece of land to do with as he pleases.

Bill passionately believes that his garden has something in common with land purchased overseas with funding from World Land Trust. Just as he has created a haven for wildlife, so too does World Land Trust – it’s just that WLT does it on a rather larger scale.

And the reason that both he and World Land Trust have been able to create wildlife sanctuaries is because of land ownership. In fact, he argues, anyone that owns land should be able to create a wildlife haven.

A little piece of nature

This got me thinking. My own garden isn't necessarily to everyone's taste but like Bill's it's still my own little piece of nature. It’s a family garden and also a wildlife haven, where I can watch animals and birds, and introduce my children to the things in nature that still excite me in the same way they did when I was their age.

I live on a housing development, so it's reasonably built up, but I have a garden bird list of more than 40 species. This is something I’m unashamedly proud of. Regular visitors include hedgehogs, frogs, toads, squirrels, bats, butterflies, bees and a fox. But my plot is surrounded by gardens that aren't so welcoming.

Connecting areas of biodiversity

Bill compares his garden to a saved area of rainforest, one that is isolated and surrounded by unprotected land. And, as he puts it, isolated areas of forest and reserve need to be joined together to give wildlife more room to roam. One obvious way to connect patches of protected habitat is by creating wildlife corridors between them.

Buying land to form wildlife corridors is just the kind of practical conservation work that WLT supports.

One recent success story is a wildlife corridor in Kerala created by Wildlife Trust of India in partnership with WLT. This corridor allows wildlife to travel from one piece of protected habitat to another. Previously, when there was no corridor, elephants were coming into conflict with people living in villages that lay in the path of their traditional routes. Wildlife Trust of India has successfully resolved this problem, and the corridors are working.

Enthusiastic ambassador

Meeting Bill Oddie was a pleasure and an unforgettable experience. Bill is an enthusiastic ambassador for World Land Trust, and a great communicator.

I came away from our meeting not only a little wiser about the work of World Land Trust, but also conscious of the challenge of finding creative ways to communicate the Trust’s message and the importance of its work to a wider public. We can’t all be Bill Oddie, but we can do our best.

More information

  • The closing date for entries to WLT's Limerick Competition is noon on Friday 5 April 2013.
    Submit a limerick »
  • World Land Trust has been working with Wildlife Trust of India since 2003. WTI has identified 88 elephant corridors, which have been prioritised according to their conservation importance and feasibility of protection. WTI and the World Land Trust are working together to protect these corridors one by one. You can support the Indian Elephant Corridors Appeal by donating to WLT’s Action Fund and specifying Elephant Appeal in the comments box.

Donate to the Action Fund »

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