Iolo Williams Q&A

Iolo Williams is a naturalist and TV presenter who is passionate about biodiversity and wildlife. We’ve been working with Iolo on our a Home for All campaign, and we caught up with him to answer your burning questions…

Q: What common trees or shrubs should we be introducing into our gardens to encourage birds and wildlife?

A: Try to plant a variety of trees. Some, such as apple and pear trees, provide nectar for pollinators when they flower and food for humans and wildlife when they fruit. Hawthorn and holly provide berries for wintering birds as well as shelter for all kinds of wildlife.

Q: Why is it important to encourage birds and wildlife in our gardens?

A: As we lose a lot of wildlife habitats in the surrounding countryside, gardens are becoming increasingly important, especially for species such as birds and hedgehogs. Growing a variety of trees, shrubs and flowering plants, as well as putting out water and erecting nest boxes, ensures that you are creating an oasis for our wildlife

Q: How important is biodiversity and what role do birds play in this?

A: Biodiversity means the variety of wildlife and plants all around us, from the smallest insect to the brightest flower. The greater the biodiversity, the healthier the environment. Birds play a vital role in that they are an important part of this complex, wildlife web. Amongst many other things, they are pollinators, seed dispersers, pest controllers, predators and prey

Q: What is the best thing we can do to protect our birds and wildlife?

A: To help protect our birds and wildlife, turn your garden into a mini nature reserve. Dig a pond or put out a water source, put up nest boxes, plant wildflowers, construct log piles, feed the birds. All of these things will be a big help

Q: What is the most common mistake you see time and time again from the public when they try to help birds or wildlife?

A: One of the most common mistakes I see people doing is picking up baby birds, thinking they have been abandoned by the parents. 99% of the time, the parents will be nearby, waiting for you to move on so that they can feed their offspring. If you think it is in danger, put the chick in the nearest shrub or hedge and leave it there

Q: How has lockdown changed the way people think about/ view birds and wildlife?

A: One of the few positive things to come out of lockdown is that many people have reconnected with nature. Wildlife has provided a refuge for so many during a very difficult period and we must remember this and continue to respect and protect our wildlife once lockdown is over

Q: Have you seen an increase in biodiversity since the pandemic began? If so, what kind?

A: The biggest increase in biodiversity I’ve seen during lockdown has been on some of our roadside verges. In the past, they would have been mown incessantly by local councils, but the pandemic has meant that they have been spared and wildflowers such as primrose, bugle and milk flower have flourished

Q: I don’t have a garden – what’s the best way for me to help birds and wildlife?

A: If you don’t have a garden, there are several things you can do to help wildlife. You can become a member of a conversation organization, such as RSPB or the Wildlife Trusts. You can volunteer for a local wildlife charity or a local reserve. Or, you can simply feed the birds in your local park. There are so many ways we can all help our precious wildlife

Q: Is biodiversity all about making big changes to the way we live?

A: Looking after biodiversity doesn’t necessarily mean making big changes. Try using less plastic, recycle more, buy local food whenever possible, try to travel by public transport whenever you can, turn lights out when you leave a room, walk to the local shop. When added together, all these small measures will have an enormous effect, especially if we all do it

Q: How do I encourage children and younger family members and friends to make their outdoor spaces more biodiverse?

A: To encourage young people to make their green spaces better for wildlife, you have to make it interesting and fun. Take them pond dipping to show them what they can see if they build a pond. Show them all the different kind of bees that visit particular flowers. Set up a white sheetnear a light on a warm summers’ night to see how many moths you can attract. Put out rotting fruits and watch the butterflies ‘taste’ with their feet! There are so many fun things you can do

Q: What other projects are you working on at the moment?

A: At present, I am preparing for another series of Springwatch and I’m filming for a BBC Wales series on the wildlife of Anglesey. Last week, I was filming adders, bittern and chough in the spring sunshine. When lockdown eases, I’m hoping to be able to start some of my wildlife tours to Scotland once more