With UK wildlife struggling most during the winter months, experts are urging the British public to help by transforming their Christmas tree into a wildlife haven after the Christmas period.

The festive period is a time to come together and celebrate, but with all that partying comes plenty of waste. In fact, according to the Environment Agency*, an extra 30% of rubbish is produced and discarded throughout the Christmas period, in comparison to the rest of the year.

During the winter, it’s a real challenge for wild birds to find enough food to build and maintain their fat supplies. Some of the smallest birds need to consume as much as 30% of their body weight to survive the long, cold winter nights.

Hedgehogs will begin to hibernate in December, but a lack of food and shelter means many just won’t make it through the winter.

With 81% of UK adults** believing that nature is under threat and requires urgent protection, there’s plenty we can do to help our garden wildlife this Christmas.

Sean McMenemy, a garden wildlife expert and director of Ark Wildlife, provides insight into we can repurpose waste from the festive period and transform it into something to help our garden wildlife thrive.

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1. Transform your Christmas tree into a multi-perch bird feeder

A real Christmas tree brings the magic of the festive season alive, filling your home with its fresh, woody fragrance. But when January rolls around, we often end up throwing the Christmas tree away. Instead, turn the tree trunk into a multi-perch bird feeder for your feathered friends.

All you need to do is cut the branches back to 6″ from the trunk and hang treats such as fat balls or bird feeders from the stems. From peanut garlands to bird food-covered pine cones and juicy berries, it’ll make for a stunning garden centrepiece.

You can also add some food around the tree base as when the ground is frozen, songbirds can’t dig up worms. Energy-rich bird food is designed for winter survival, so sprinkling some around the tree will give birds a huge boost.

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2. Reuse Christmas tree branches to help insects

Remember those old Christmas tree branches you cut off to make the multi-perch bird feeder? Well, they have used it too! You can place them over spring bulbs and early flowers as ground insulation to help them grow. These spring flowers will provide nectar at a critical time for insects.

The tips of needle-covered branches also make beautiful bouquets. Hang them from walls and fences as a pretty feature that doubles as an insect habitat.

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3. Provide shelter for pond life

Old Christmas trees are a wildlife gift that keeps on giving! The tree can be placed in or over your garden pond to offer protection to pond life from predators such as herons and cats.

Old trees are great for frogs, toads and newts too. It provides a damp sanctuary for them out of the water whilst remaining close by. Cold-blooded amphibians tend to hibernate during the winter months, with male frogs going to the bottom of the pond. So, you can help out by placing a ball on the surface of the pond to prevent it from freezing over.

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4. Provide shelter from frost

Christmas trees also offer valuable shelter from frost. The whole tree or sections of the trunk create the perfect sheltered corner for birds, insects and small mammals.

On top of all this, don’t forget fresh drinking water! Vital 365 days a year, placing it next to the Christmas leftovers will provide animals with the perfect beverage to accompany their festive feast. But make sure to avoid toxic antifreeze products for bird baths that can harm wildlife – use an eco-friendly option for a frost-proof bird bath.

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