I imagine most of you are tired of reading about Brexit. From “second referendum” stories to the “stock-piling of food” there is a weariness entering the great British public. Even some of the most die-hard remainers are saying “please just get on with it!”. But the truth is that we are still some way from a lasting deal, and one area we need to watch very carefully is the environment.

Funding for education, NHS and transport is tight and likely to get tighter over the next few years. As a result local government and national government have to look hard at their priorities-and not surprisingly keeping the lights on in a hospital or school, trumps looking after the local green space or nature reserve.

Just a few days ago I was meeting with the head of one of the London Boroughs and he boldly announced that “within months we will have no money to mow the parks or empty park bins let alone plant trees or dig ponds”. Put it another way; the squeeze on the public purse is so great we are now entering a period where the costs of even meeting basic ecological needs are too high.

For the authorities the choices are stark. Rent out green spaces to volunteer and community groups or see many loved parks, gardens and nature reserves close. The message from this one London borough is being whispered up and down the land- we are running out of money to do anything creative with the land we own.

So what happens next? If you are in an area where the best that is happening is the occasional mow of the grass in the local park; you can be sure that there will be someone in the council hoping that a local community initiative takes off to turn around the fortunes of the site in question. Losing money for the environment is not just bad for birds and animals, but for people too-with more crime, vandalism and neglect. And in turn that will add to costs rather than reduce them in the long run.

It is time then to stand up and be counted. If you are passionate about green spaces then you may well need to be willing to step in to protect them. There are a growing army of community groups, local charities, friends groups and public/private sector partnerships working to fill the gaps left by the authorities. In Hampshire we have numerous Transition Town groups, local Wildlife Trust groups, green church groups and housing estate volunteer groups. As money declines- it will be down to Hampshire’s army of willing residents to take up the slack. If you are interested in forming a local group or joining one and don’t know where to look-do let me know and I can help you with some ideas.

In the mean time as we head towards Christmas and the inevitable New Year resolution-why not decide to join in a local group dedicated to caring for local green space? Even if you can only get out once a month, you will be making an amazing difference for people and nature!!