How New Housing Could Benefit Birds
The Wildlife Trust is trying to persuade house builders to design and construct new homes which are both inspirational places to live and beneficial to wildlife. There is a huge demand for new housing but also a need to restore natural habitats rather than to build on them. The Wildlife Trust believes that it is possible to meet both needs within the same development.
Housing developments need to be more visionary and should be environmentally friendly places to live. Concerns for the environment should be at the heart of all planning in order to deliver the new homes required but also to improve the environment. New homes could be wonderful places to live with community spirit, open spaces and attractive planting.
Unfortunately, the UK has lost a disturbing 97% of lowland meadows since 1930. These areas are crucial for biodiversity and yet little is being done to promote their restoration. Stewardship schemes provide financial incentives for farmers to dedicate a portion of their land to the needs of wildlife. But these efforts could easily be negated by the building of large housing estates.
Wildlife in Decline
More than half of all wild plants and animals have seen a decline in numbers over the last 50 years. 15% of species are at risk of disappearing from these shores altogether. Farmland birds have been hit particularly hard, mainly as a result of intensive agriculture but urbanisation hasn’t helped. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if house building actually benefited birds rather than swallowing up yet more of their natural habitats?
The Possibilities for Helping Birds
It is possible to design homes and developments which encourage birds and vital pollinators including bees. The cost of such environmentally friendly building is small in comparison to the overall cost of constructing homes. Community green spaces, walkways, gardens, verges, roofs and wetlands can all be planted to create a wildlife-friendly area. These features would also enhance the lives of those who live there. The residents would have daily contact with nature and, if houses were designed to tackle excess water, they would enjoy protection from the extreme weather caused by climate change.
The government has pledged to strengthen planning policy so that local authorities will have to ensure that any housing developments provide net gains for biodiversity. The Wildlife Trust monitors thousands of planning applications each year to promote better design for the sake of wildlife and people.
It remains to be seen if any housing developers actually start to take the needs of birds into consideration when planning their projects. As these companies are usually dedicated to building as many units as possible in the smallest possible space, it is hard to imagine that any revolutionary changes are likely, but one lives in hope! A little green space and careful planting are all that is required to make a huge difference and yet housing estates seem to feature less green space than ever these days.
It's a wonder that residents of recently built houses ever get to hear a bird, let alone see one near their homes.