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Dealing with garden pests

There are many protected species of animals and plants in the UK and it is easy to fall foul of regulations when clearing out garden pests if you don’t do your research.
 
There are also many species of animal which are not protected, but which can present a pest problem.
 
I will begin by looking at those species that benefit from legal protection. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 includes all the following species:
 
  • Bats
  • Great crested newts
  • Badgers
  • Dormice
  • Voles
  • Otters
  • Natterjack toads
  • Various reptiles
 
This is not an exhaustive list, so contact a qualified ecologist if you have any concerns. The legislation in the United Kingdom prohibits the killing, injuring, taking or selling of those wild animals listed.
 
This legislation applies to land (including land covered by water) and to territorial waters. It is also an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place that such an animal uses for shelter, protection or breeding.
 
Severe penalties can be imposed for deliberate or accidental damage. When you start work on a new project you need to find out if there are any protected species on the site and then factor this into your proposals.
 

Preventative methods

Make sure that the client and contractor are kept in the loop with your findings so that they are not put in a vulnerable position. Other species which we would normally regard as pests include deer and rabbits. These animals can do serious damage to gardens and plants and often it is necessary to prevent their access to the garden.
 
The only counteraction to this is continuous fencing of sufficient height and depth to seal the site. But, the effectiveness is vulnerable to a gate left open overnight or a hole created by a determined rabbit. New tree planting is especially vulnerable and will need protecting with guards from ground level up to browsing height of a deer. Any damage to the bark may kill the tree or at least stay with the tree for the rest of its life.
 
Fencing needs checking regularly to remain effective as the growth of plants can create opportunities for wildlife to get in.
 
Moles will quickly destroy fine turf. Although there are many gadgets on the market which promise to deter them, the only real solution is to trap and kill them. This option is not very palatable to most people and coping with the odd molehill is a small price to pay.
 
Birds will often perch on pergolas and arches and leave their droppings all over paths and garden furniture. Think about this at the design stage and try to reduce these roosting spots.
 
Ironically there are often many species of wildlife that we actively encourage into our gardens – it’s all a question of balance.
Article contributed by Janine Pattison
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