Published: 11th NOVEMBER 2021

12 ways to support wildlife on the National Cycle Network

You can make a big difference to the many species of animals who live and travel on traffic-free paths. Your actions and kindness have the power to help wildlife thrive. So be inspired to give a helping hand to nature with 12 simple steps.

Close up of Barn Owl's face.

"Barn Owl" by jitze is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

We can all play our part in supporting nature on the National Cycle Network (the Network) and beyond.

Like us, animals need to travel to thrive.

So it makes sense that the animals we see on the Network, are many of the same creatures who grace our gardens and greenspaces.

Whether you’re out and about on the Network, or managing a garden or greenspace, there’s something for everyone in this blog.

12 small actions which have the power to make a world of difference to wildlife.


Ways to support wildlife on the Network

1. Walk or cycle for more of your everyday journeys. By reducing the number of trips you make by motor vehicle, you can reduce the risk of road death to barn owls, migrating toads, hedgehogs and many other species.

2. Tread lightly. If you’re off the main path, such as on a verge, be careful not to trample, touch, disturb or damage habitats, especially nests.

3. Revive a resting or struggling bee in need of nourishment. Offer a 50/50 solution of white sugar and water on the surface of a spoon or pebble. Don’t use honey or brown sugar as these can challenge their immune system and digestion. Handy keyrings are available so you can carry this solution on-the-go.

4. Never leave human food behind for animals, unless you're acting under specific guidance.

5. Always remove your litter. And if you feel safe to do so, why not collect others too?

6. Get help for an animal who is suffering or in danger, as soon as it is safe for you to do so. The RSPCA recommend local vets and wildlife rehabilitation centres as your first port of call. Be prepared in advance of an incident by familiarising yourself with RSPCA guidance and take a note of the phone numbers of some local centres.

Young hedgehog walks through dry summer grass after dark.

"Baby Hedgehog" by cobaltfish is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Ways to support wildlife in gardens and greenspaces

7. Feed our pollinators by planting bee and butterfly friendly plants, or sow the more affordable seed bombs or packets.

8. Let an area of shaded greenspace grow wild. Add piles of logs and leaves, allowing them to compost. This will offer valuable shelter to invertebrates, slow worms and toads.

9. Site a bird box in a tree to provide a safe home. If you’re in southern England or Wales, you may even be fortunate enough to have a dormouse move in.

10. Don’t forget ground feeding birds like robins. They’ll appreciate a tray of sunflower hearts at ground level. For brownie points, they love mealworms soaked in water for added hydration.

11. Place a shallow bowl of fresh tap water on the ground, remembering to change it every day. It will be a bath for some birds and a refreshing drink for hedgehogs.

12. Avoid using poisons in your home, workplace or garden. Many animals are an essential source of food for other animals. Poisons can be directly passed onto animals like hedgehogs who eat slugs, or barn owls who eat rodents, with fatal consequences.


Our gift to nature

We all know that human societies threaten and challenge the survival of many other species.

But it's within our gift to protect and support them.

So be inspired to deepen your connection with nature by making the lives of animals a little bit safer and easier.

Furthermore, we know that greener, more biodiverse traffic-free paths are more attractive places to be. 

And attractive paths experience increased levels of walking and cycling, bringing a host of social and environmental benefits.

Supporting wildlife is win-win for us all.


Discover the positive impact Sustrans volunteers have on wildlife on the National Cycle Network

Ours volunteers work is vital in helping wildlife on the National Cycle Network

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