MANY of us will know that our wildlife is in real trouble. Its not that unusual to hear someone saying, “there aren’t as many birds around here as there used to be” or “when I was a child I remember seeing lots of squashed insects on my dads windscreen”. And of course, they are right.

Since 1966, we have lost some 40 MILLION birds across the UK. In Hampshire we estimate that over the last half century we have perhaps lost 800,000 birds. We have been losing insects at an equally alarming rate. So why the sudden and steep declines?

I suspect you already know the answers……. house building, intensively managed farm land, disturbance of breeding sites by people, dogs, cyclists, walkers; ripping out of hedgerows, climate change, road building, deer grazing, pollution, plastic waste in the seas…… Hampshire has had it all and we are in real trouble.

At the same time this has been happening; there are more of us concerned about nature than ever before……. some estimates suggest there are more than two million people in the UK who are members of a wildlife organisation. That’s impressive. There are also more of us who are feeding birds, recycling, car sharing, buying organic. But still our county’s wildlife is in decline. By 2025 we could have lost several iconic species in Hampshire, including nightingale, turtle dove and wood warbler. So now is the time to act.

The charity I am a director for, A Rocha UK has come up with a list of 10 species we can all take action for to help reduce the declining numbers. So here is my own Hampshire “target 10” with a suggestion of what we can do to change the fortunes of some of our most threatened wildlife.

Target 1: House martin: A rapidly decreasing summer visitor from Africa. Buy an artificial nest and provide a home for these amazing birds. Widely available on line from RSPB and other retailers.

Target 2: Honey bee: In real trouble across the county. Leave an area of your garden to grow or plant wild native flower mix to provide a seasonal source of food.

Target 3: Slow worm: A legless lizard, not a snake and completely harmless. Create a compost heap and put down an old piece of felting for them to shelter under in winter. They need it warm and dark!

Target 4: Spotted flycatcher-if you have a bigger garden then do buy a flycatcher box and help save one of the fastest declining birds in Hampshire. Keep edges of the garden long for insects which they feed on.

Target 5: Common toad- not so common in our county. Often run over by cars and fewer ponds means fewer toads. Dig a mini pond, or buy/make a toad house for them to hide in.

Target 6: Hedgehog-also rapidly disappearing thanks to climate change and house building. Cut a small hole in your garden fence so they can travel and encourage your neighbour to do the same!

Target 7: Common swift-an amazing bird that sleeps on the wing; but still needs a nest site. Easy to buy and erect a swift box. Best for urban areas; where swift is still fairly common.

Target 8: Butterflies- grow buddleia and other garden plants that are attractive to our butterflies. Our insects need your help!

Target 9: Song thrush- massive declines as hedges have vanished. So why not plant a fruiting/berry producing shrub that the thrushes will love?

Target 10: Fungi- in autumn, don’t assume they are poisonous and chop them down; let them grow as they will provide food for small mammals and insects. Fungi need your help; so, when you are in the forest-take pictures, but don’t pick them!

Have fun with the target 10 and why not send me updates of which species you have decided to help and what has happened since!