Five ways to protect urban wildlife during social distancing

Did you know that spiders have tiny fluffy paws, or that Melbourne is home to 15 species of microbat? Fall in love with urban wildlife in 2020 and help us nurture local biodiversity for future generations.

While we all stay home a lot more to help stop the spread of COVID-19, our work to protect urban wildlife continues, and many like-minded community members are getting involved online.

Our Gardens for Wildlife volunteers have been meeting on Zoom and sharing virtual tours of their gardens to share information about wildlife-friendly features.

We’re also trialing a virtual wildlife garden assessment model where residents can send us a picture of their patch, so we can offer recommendations to make their garden more water and wildlife-friendly.

Now is a great time to involve the whole family in protecting urban wildlife. So here are five ways to support our furry, feathered, winged and scaly mates, even if you don’t have a garden.

1. Reduce your impact

Grow your own food, eat a more plant-based diet, buy second hand, and get a discounted composting system thanks to our partnership with Compost Revolution, and recycle your e-waste to reduce your impact on the planet.

When you’re out exercising in nature, stay on the path, don’t feed wildlife inappropriate food, and leave things as you found them. Even logs, rocks and dead trees are important habitats. Keep your cat indoors, turn off outdoor lights, and leave out shallow water for wildlife when it’s hot.

2. Go on a city safari

Next time you go out to exercise, turn it into a city safari to spot creatures like sacred kingfishers, peacock spiders, pobblebonk frogs, skinks and many more in our parks and gardens, but keep your distance – don’t frighten them.

Need more activities to entertain the kids? Download the digital version of our children’s book The Little Things that Run the City to help them identify common insects, or encourage them to find out where different species of butterflies live on our interactive Biodiversity Visual website.             

3. Get your hands dirty, and meet new friends

Become a Citizen Forester, Gardens for Wildlife guide or Nature Steward to help us research microbats, waterbugs and other wildlife, plant trees, and share the joy with others when social distancing restrictions are lifted. Kids can join our Junior Ranger program.

While we stay home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, many of these programs are being adjusted and delivered online in innovative ways, so there’s no time like the present to get started.

In future, you could also volunteer  for your local community garden, a community-run nursery like Bili Nursery or the Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Co-Operative, or a community group like Friends of Royal Park or Westgate Biodiversity.

4. Make wildlife feel welcome

From native plants in pots to bee hotels and nesting boxes, there are lots of things you can do to make your home more wildlife-friendly, even if you just have a balcony.

Head to our website to find out which plants will support biodiversity and suit growing conditions at your place using our Urban Nature Planting Guide, or arrange a garden assessment through our Gardens for Wildlife program, which is currently being delivered online.

5. Let your garden run wild

Swap your thirsty lawn for native plants and wildflowers to boost biodiversity, and garden organically to reduce the impact of synthetic fertilisers and insecticides on the environment.

Your garden needn’t be perfect, so leave things be. Spent flowers become seeds for native birds, hollow stems become nests for small bees, and birds collect fine dry fibres, spider webs and feathers to line their nests.

More information

To learn more about all of the above, and how we’re taking action amid the climate and biodiversity emergency to protect threatened species, visit Urban nature.