One-third of front gardens across the UK have been paved over, shows a new report, which not only raises concerns regarding flooding in these damp and squishy days, but also means that the habitat for urban wildlife is being vastly decreased.
Apart from that, it’s just really sad to see people’s front gardens, which could be little oases for grass and beautiful flowers, being replaced by ugly ‘hardstandings’ just to give people a place to park their car.
Car ownership, though, seems to be rising unstoppably, meaning that more and more of our gardens are going to disappear. In 1991, there were 21 million cars in the UK. Today, there are 28.5 million – in twenty years, that figure could be up to 32 million! In 1991, 16% of front gardens were car-friendly hardstandings – now, the figure is up to 30%.
This raises serious concerns for wildlife, for flood control, and of course for the familiar sight of walking down a street to see its front gardens bedecked gloriously with flowers!
The RAC has put the blame on local councils for failing to provide parking spaces, but surely people’s decision making also has to be questioned. For many a car may be an unavoidable necessity of life, but many families have two cars who could easily manage with one, and environmentally friendly – and healthy – options such as cycling, while enjoying a resurgence, are frequently overlooked.
The annual cost of green spaces as domestic gardens get paved over is a whopping 3,000 hectares – ‘two and a half Hyde Parks’. This provides a huge threat to wildlife: "Front gardens are an incredibly valuable wildlife resource in any urban environment and in London gardens represent 24% of land," said Carlo Laurenzi, chief executive of the London Wildlife Trust. "The removal of each tree, hedge or square metre of lawn is a loss not only of the plants involved, but also for the wildlife that depends upon them for food and shelter. London's gardens provide valuable habitat for a range of wild plants and animals including birds, mammals, amphibia and a huge variety of invertebrates."
So if you’re planning on replacing your garden with a hardstanding, stop and think! Britain needs you – to keep your front garden!