Updated: Sep 27
What Is Wildscaping?
Wildscaping is… Living and acting from a different state of being that recognises that we ARE nature (we are just a being, called a ‘human’, rather than a being called a ‘spider’ or a ‘mouse’). Starting from that place of humility, we can recognise the needs and desires of all beings and find a ‘central balance point’ of harmony between the requirements of all of us. Boundaries are created: the structure of decision making based on self love & self respect and about fulfilling our needs and wants as well as looking to serve the other species around us.
If you think about it in terms of land (whether public parks or our own gardens) wildscaping is about recognising the unique opportunities within each space... Based on what is wanted by the local community or us land owners, we can work out how to serve not only OURSELVES but ALL of the other species (animal & plant) in that space: finding that central balance point for ALL OF US to coexist in harmony, as much as possible…
Why Should Everyone Get Involved?
I think that everyone should get involved because wildscaping enables a wild, empowered way of living. Wildscaping is also - while easy in so many ways - a very honest and genuine way of living and co-existing with other species (animal and botanical) within our planet: there’s no superficial gestures to comfort ourselves that we are offsetting our impact on the planet. Instead, we can live and act in ways that are wild and loving, to ourselves and all species around us…
Here are some examples….
Planting fruit trees (feeding ourselves, creating habitat for others and feeding others).
Accepting which bits of land we want to use for our own pleasure and which bits we can effortlessly share with all other species (or even give over to them completely).
Bird, Bat and Bee bricks - installed in our residential and commercial properties - are an amazing way to co-habit with other species (sacrificing nothing on our part).
Enabling water sources for wildlife as much as possible: even small water bowls that fill and retain rainwater, placed as frequently as possible around gardens or by doorsteps, to allow our local wildlife to thrive better, amongst us.
Not using pesticides or weed killers.
Thinking about our land ownership differently and taking fair, not violent action (ie. not using lethal so-called ‘solutions’): if we think that ‘pests’ are getting into our homes and gardens (and I’m talking about perceived ‘pests’ here, from foxes to rats or mice) we can reach out to incredible organisations like Humane Wildlife Solutions or Fox-A-Gone and create a permanent set of boundaries where we don’t sacrifice our own well being but we do manage to live in greater harmony with those around us.
What Obstacles Do People Face When Trying To Wildscape?
There are a whole variety of obstacles, depending on each persons’ situation…
If you are living in rented accommodation, for example, most landlords are very resistant to allowing residents to have ‘wild’ gardens because they are concerned that it will attract what they regard as ‘pests’. (These ‘pests’ are of course, just wild lives that we have labelled because we believe them to be only a nuisance).
Councils and government departments are currently locked in an ongoing battle between those residents who wish to see an end of all pesticide use - the continual poisoning of our land/air/water - and those who don’t like what they regard to be weeds, in parks and on the streets….
Often, if either residents in houses or businesses in office spaces want to support wildlife (especially birds) complaints will go (from less wildlife friendly residents) to the local council who send letters asking the individuals to desist in supporting creatures that have been labelled - by our government - as ‘pests’. Our whole legal structure can sometimes feel like it’s preventing wildscaping. On a positive note, however, more and more this is starting to change (slowly, it is becoming the majority of people, who want to support our wildlife) and by planting trees and habitat - rather than just having bird feeders, for example - we can enable wildlife without being accused of feeding them or causing a local nuisance.
Our UK culture can still be so wildlife-resistant in some ways (so frightened of these creatures that we don’t really understand because we have become accustomed to living separately from them) that even putting bat, bird or bee bricks into a building can cause a local outcry (and I have experienced this myself) with exaggerated (due to a lack of knowledge) concerns over disease from these creatures, or just a subconscious fear that the physical environment around them is changing and they are afraid of living in a new, changed world.
Our general health and safety measures - across the UK - are still extremely wildlife resistant. A good example of this is when I was asked for advice on how a very large University could set up an on campus ‘Wildlife First Aid Officer’, in case they found wildlife that needed help, on campus. This university had registered as a Hedgehog Friendly campus BUT their maintenance department had lethal poisons on campus for what they regarded as ‘pests’ around the canteens. Without question, those poisons would impact the local hedgehogs, who could eat the poisoned mice. When I told the university that, they didn’t want to know because it meant changing all of their health and safety protocol. When I also advised that they create wild habitat for local wildlife and even installed bird and bat bricks, they were also very resistant because they felt that they would have to check with their insurance companies on whether they were allowed and they were afraid that it would cause health and safety hazards. As far as I am aware, they are still a registered ‘hedgehog friendly campus’ even though their entire set up only really harms uk wildlife (not only will rats and mice suffer from the poisons but so will the wild lives that consume them) and the ‘Wildlife First Aid Officer’ they appoint will generally only be dealing with wildlife casualties that are poisoned or that are harmed by lack of habitat or starving from lack of food sources. This is an example of superficial and unhelpful green washing, versus actually wildscaping (ie. living in harmony with other species).
Pests/Vermin Don’t Exist.
You know, basically what we seem to label as ‘pests’ and ‘vermin’ are those species that we find we cannot force to be helpful or of use to us: we have forgotten completely that they have equal rights to be on this planet (that they have been brought into existence by the same biological & ecological activity that created us humans too).
To put it another way, we seem to view those species that we label as ‘pests’ or ‘vermin’ as a kind of negative currency: they TAKE from our enjoyment of life (like when I get phone calls from members of the public about fox cubs who have made off with the toys that their human children have left out in their gardens).
But one person's pest is another person's love story.
What Does ‘Living In Harmony With Other Beings’ Look Like, In Practice?
We can live in harmony with all other life in so many ways…
We can wildscape our land, so that they are ‘Happiness Hubs’. (This term came from when I was wildscaping a church - and the surrounding land - over the summer and a volunteer asked me, “Are you creating a biodiversity hub?” and the thought popped into my mind, “No, this is a ‘Happiness Hubʼ.” ) A ‘Happiness Hubʼ is a place of balance: uniting the needs of every being who would desire to utilise that space (local humans, wildlife and even plant life) and finding the best way that can be thought of, to co-exist in harmony together: that also means recognising the right of plants who have seeded and carved out their own territory there too.
We can refuse to use any poisons and pesticides.
We can be honest with ourselves and our planet, acknowledging that we ARE nature, just by another name (a ‘human’ instead of a ‘mouse’) and this enables a whole new perspective of our world and a whole new set of more positive behaviours, including using our money to purchase CRUELTY FREE products (having our day to day cleaning and beauty habits be kind, instead of cruel) so as not to endorse the torturing of animals in labs, while we also wildscape to live in harmony with our wildlife.
We can be what I call ‘wild hearted’… This idea of being ‘wild hearted’ comes from an acknowledgement that living in harmony doesn’t have to mean living uncomfortably or giving up our rights, it’s just that instead of hating/fearing other creatures, we accept that we just need to set some boundaries so that we can live in harmony. For example, I am not going to tell someone who has mice or rats in the house that they should just live with them and love them, as there is a genuine fear that they would chew the wiring and potentially be dangerous, even to themselves…. Instead, being ‘Wild Hearted’ means recognising that we are ALL wild beings (we are all born of this planet) and that we can set boundaries: we have effective, compassionate ways to move rats and mice back out into the garden (where it is VERY safe for them to be, despite what pest control companies will tell you) where you could even support their existence by creating habitat for them away from the house. Then it’s just a question of balance: if these gorgeous creatures have habitat and seasonal food sources, like fruit bushes and trees or other wild food sources (you aren’t feeding them seeds/nuts all year round, for example) then they can cohabit with you in your garden very successfully, live a little apart from you and cause you no trouble at all. In fact, your life could be improved by getting to find out more about these gorgeous, clever, affectionate animals.
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