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Somewhere to call home for people and wildlife

More and more people are living in cities and other urban areas. Many cities like Manchester are trying to be wilder and make nature more welcome. Green cities are attractive, good for our health and wellbeing, and can become more liveable in a changing climate.

Cities are not just full of people, they are also home to a diverse range of species: some we notice and like, others we notice and don’t like, and others we simply ignore. Some wilder places that feel uncomfortable for people can be good for nature. Through careful design, we can make people-pleasing green spaces which are also great for wildlife.

Plant life

Plants are crucial to life on Earth. In cities, the numbers and types of plants we encourage influences the animals that live alongside us. In urban greenspaces and on city streets, plants also help to reduce summer temperatures and add to our sense of wellbeing.

Insect life

Some insects have adapted easily to life in cities. We can improve urban habitats to support more beneficial insect life by changing mowing schedules, caring for rivers and lakes, planting trees and selecting insect-friendly plants. Through thoughtful management of gardens and greenspaces, both diversity and numbers of insects will increase.


Rivers and wetlands are Manchester’s most biodiverse places. There are strings of parks along the river valleys of the Medlock, Irk and Mersey, as well as canals and smaller brooks and streams. Lakes and ponds are particularly important for supporting amphibians such as the common frog, the common toad and several species of newt.

Too close for comfort

Living in close proximity can have its drawbacks. Some of the species which are most successful at living alongside us are those which we like the least. Animals that thrive on our scraps are often seen as dirty or dangerous. Wildflowers that survive in city streets are seen as messy weeds.

Garden birds

The city’s parks and gardens can be great habitats for small birds. Trees, shrubs and hedges provide places to roost and nest, and there is often plenty of food available. However, attracting large numbers of birds can easily spread diseases through garden bird populations.

What is 'acceptable'?

We are highly sensitive to the look of the places where we live. Our personal ideas of wild shape what is acceptable. If a weed is just a plant out of place, expanding the places we expect to see them will stop them being weeds. Some cities are starting to reduce the use of chemical herbicide and people are learning to live with weeds. How wild is too wild on your doorstep?