We have a kōwahi tree in our backyard. It grows on a weird angle, and when we first moved in I seriously contemplated pulling it out. I’m so pleased that I didn’t. Not only has the kōwhai become one of the kid’s favourite climbing trees, but the other day I glanced out the window and counted 18 tui filling the branches and feasting on the nectar. Seeing nature flourish in our small suburban section has filled me with a surprising sense of joy and I love the curiosity and connection that it sparks in my children.
Regardless of where we live, there are some pretty cool ways we can help nature thrive.
- Plant natives: Choosing to plant native plants and trees on our properties will attract native birds and other wildlife. It’s also a pretty cool way to offset some of our unavoidable carbon emissions. There are lots of options that will grow happily in pots if you don’t have the garden space, or if your place isn’t an option, see if there are any local planting days happening in your community.
- Inviting wildlife in: By providing food, water and shelter, our backyards can become a haven for wildlife. Hanging water baths, native flowering trees and plants, areas of leaf litter, logs and rocks will encourage native birds, bees, bugs, and lizards. The simple act of allowing your lawn to grow will also encourage biodiversity – maybe dedicate a few areas of the section to be ‘no-mow’ zones and see what happens.
The Department of Conservation has heaps of ideas and resources to help you on your journey or check out iNaturalist for some cool ways to engage with nature.
- Keeping them safe: Helping our native wildlife to flourish also means thinking about keeping them safe from predators. For example if you’re thinking about providing food or water for birds, put it somewhere that is tricky for the neighbour cats to access. Or check out Predator Free NZ for lots of other tips and projects that are happening in your community.
- Connect: The way I see it, nurturing nature is better for the wellbeing of our planet, and connecting with nature is better for our own wellbeing. Whether it’s taking a moment with the 18 tui in our kōwhai, finding bugs under rocks with the kids, or noticing the change of season in the trees – I know I always gain a little bit of perspective and feel a little bit more grounded when I connect with the nature around me.