With Halloween just around the corner, Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales, has issued an urgent plea not to endanger wildlife by dumping pumpkins in parks and woodlands.
The UK’s largest woodland conservation charity has spotted a worrying trend in recent years for Halloween pumpkins to be taken to the nearest wood and left, in a well-meaning but misguided attempt, to provide food for birds and woodland creatures – but this is actually causing more harm than good.
Kylie Jones Mattock, Estate Manager at Coed Cadw, explained the issue:
“A myth seems to have been built via social media that leaving pumpkins in woods helps wildlife. People think they’re doing a good thing by not composting them, and instead leaving them for nature.”
“But pumpkin flesh can be dangerous for hedgehogs, attracts colonies of rats, and in large quantities also has a detrimental effect on woodland soils, plants and fungi. We can’t leave dumped pumpkins to rot on site, so we end up spending our time and resources dealing with an orange mushy mess – instead of focussing on other things.”
‘Risk to Hedgehogs’
In a social media post, North Wales Wildlife Trust echoed the Trust’s concern over the risk to hedgehogs, whose numbers have declined by between 30% – 75% since the year 2000. Hedgehogs, like other wildlife, are opportunistic eaters and spend autumn and early winter building up their fat reserves for hibernation. The post warned:
“At this time of year, it’s vital that hedgehogs put on as much weight as possible to help them survive the winter. But hedgehogs can’t digest cellulose, which is found in pumpkins, meaning excess pumpkin acts as a laxative, causing serious diarrhoea, dehydration and weight loss.
“Please do not leave your pumpkins on the ground for wildlife to eat.”
According to Coed Cadw, the pumpkin-dumping problem seems to be starting earlier and earlier, with supermarkets flooded with cheap pumpkins, and pumpkin-picking growing in popularity as a family activity in the run-up to Halloween.
Choose Taste Over Waste
If you’re keen to keep your pumpkin leftovers out of the food waste caddy this year, it’s time to get in the kitchen and get cooking. I’ve previously shared loads of easy recipes to use up your halloween pumpkin guts (from soup, to hummus, to cake).
You can also check out the latest issue of Cardiff Life Magazine, where Owen Morgan from the 44 Group has been sharing some of his top tips for choosing a truly delicious pumpkin, and a recipe for Bar 44’s roast pumpkin with kale, sage and parmesan pesto (shown above). You can find out more here.