For over a year now, we have been in and out of lockdown. Everyone has been learning or working from home, pubs, cafes and restaurants only open for takeaway, shops closed. Life has been more different than anyone could have imagined.
But how have all of these changes affected nature and wildlife?
I took to my Instagram story to see what other people’s views were. Overall it was a totally mixed response, with most people saying it had both a positive and negative affect.
Lets start off with pollution from planes and vehicles. With most people working from home and going abroad out of the question, a lot less people were travelling. This ultimately lead to a temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions! It is thought that the daily emissions decreased by 17% by early April 2021 compared with the 2019 levels which is brilliant!
However, to combat this amazing step forward, we kind of took two steps backwards with the massive amount of plastic pollution from PPE. Everywhere I go, there is littered masks, gloves and even visors! It is thought that 54 million face masks are making it to a landfill every single day, however, the concern is growing about the number of face masks that are being improperly disposed of around – they are an absolute necessity at the moment, but we can use reusable ones! (Obviously not for key/front workers, but for daily things such as going to school, shopping, travelling on public transport).
These disposed masks can pose a threat and be dangerous to wildlife – especially marine creatures. The RSPCA has recently spoken about multiple cases of rescue animals getting tangled in masks, and they predict the numbers of cases will go up as time goes on. The best thing to do with disposable face masks, is simply cut the elastic ear straps before throwing it away!
A lot of people also commented on disruption to breeding sites. There are two different points. Number one being: reports of wildlife in places where it hadn’t been seen previously or perhaps wouldn’t be able to go due to human traffic (some paths being closed allowed birds to next there etc).
Reports from rangers and gardeners include peregrine falcons nesting in the ancient ruins of Corfe Castle in Dorset, English partridges rootling around an empty car park near Cambridge, and a cuckoo calling at Osterley Park in west London, having not been heard there for 20 years!
However, number two being, huge issue with dog walkers accessing reserves that aren’t dog friendly and allowing their dogs off their leads – therefore disturbing a lot of nesting wildlife, such as Skylarks.
So to conclude, I think some places have thrived from us being in lockdown, whilst others have sadly been negatively affected.