The Chelsea Flower Show exhibit demonstrated that improving the services your garden ecosystem provides has benefits for you, your local community and the wider environment. To become an Ecosystem Services Champion, all you need to do is show you have improved pollination, water or carbon management in your garden in two or more ways.
The information below provides you with some examples of how you can do this and what it means to you and your garden. You may already be doing some of them, but the more you do, the bigger the cumulative impact. Register your improved service provision on the Get Involved page and declare yourself a Champion!
Take a tour of the exhibit with Martin Walker and Rebecca Slack to find out more about the ecosystem services your garden provides.
What are urban ecosystem services?
An ecosystem is a combination of plants and animals living together in and interacting with an environment e.g. woodland, fields, rocky beaches, moorland, etc. Gardens and other green spaces in towns and cities are urban ecosystems.
Urban gardens provide many benefits to society. They can supply food and boost biodiversity; regulate water flow, noise and temperature; support carbon sequestration and pollination; and promote wellbeing and health. All these factors are services provided by the garden to the gardener, local community and the wider environment.
We have brought together a team of ecosystem services experts from the University of Leeds, together with an award-winning Chelsea garden advisor, to explore ways in which gardens can be designed to be “greener” in both senses of the word. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibit gathers its inspiration from the United Nations Environment Programme’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the ecosystem service work of UK government departments which have focused on large scale land use and habitat changes, as well as the RHS’ urban greening science review which looks at smaller scale changes to urban gardens. Changes at the small scale can have a significant impact at the larger scale; if every urban gardener provided water storage and used permeable landscaping material, water services would be improved with fewer localised flooding events and reduced dependency on mains supplies.
How do you become a champion?
A gardener can become an urban ecosystem services champion by improving the quality or quantity of the individual services of a garden. Many gardeners are already well aware of the importance of, for example, having a wildflower corner, installing water butts, or avoiding peat-based soil products. However, by making lots of often small but interconnected changes to a garden, a gardener can reap the many benefits that result.
You may already be doing many of the aspects we highlight, or this site may inspire you to do more. Either way, we would like to hear from you! You can register as an ecosystem services champion at the Get Involved webpage and we would welcome your ideas, suggestions and comments for boosting the ecosystem services of gardens!
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