Wherever you go in Britain – in city, town or country – you can come across a hidden wildlife haven. It may be home to sand lizards and stoats, adders and orchids, butterflies and bush-crickets, water voles, peregrine falcons, or great crested grebes.
Yet often these oases are not official nature reserves, but little scraps of land we rarely consider important for nature. Churchyards, roadside verges, railway cuttings and disused quarries may not appear to have much in common. But they were all originally created for humans’ needs, before becoming places where wild creatures thrive. Together, they add up to an area larger than all our official nature reserves combined.