Eight ways you can help improve biodiversity in your garden

DETAILS have been released by BCP Council on some of the ways residents and developers can take steps to improve biodiversity.

Cabinet members gave their backing to the local authority’s biodiversity net gain guidance note which will be used to create a strategy and implementation plan, which future developments will have to take into account.

The council is carrying at a review of its estate to assess what biodiversity exists and what opportunities there are to improve it.

Cllr Mark Anderson, BCP Council’s portfolio holder for environment, said: “We are in an area of ​​lowland heath and it is the best local lowland heath in Europe.

“We used to have 50,000 plus acres of lowland heath stretching from Poole to Dorchester. That has been reduced to 15 per cent now. We need to preserve that, we need to build on that and more importantly we need to support the biodiversity that is in that area.

Clr Mark Anderson

“We have all six reptiles in the country are based in the heathland. We have very rare birds such as nightjars, we have a whole raft of insects and orchids and a whole lot of other plants that are really important.”

Cllr Anderson said the appendix presented alongside the report to cabinet was “really useful to anyone who is interested in biodiversity”.

He said residents would be able to use it to improve the biodiversity of their gardens.

“It talks about some of the easy things you can do to provide extra biodiversity,” Cllr Anderson said.

Below is a list of some of the examples the council has given on how biodiversity can be improved

Green roofs/walls

Adding green roofs or walls adds additional habitat value for invertebrates, pollinators and supports birds and bats. On sites with limited space these features provide additional value, have urban cooling effects, slow down surface water flows and provide many benefits for wildlife.

Tree and hedge planting

Tree and hedge planting should wherever possible be mainly if not wholly of native species, at a planting density to ensure a healthy hedge can be maintained, or to allow trees to be grouped together to maximize benefits for wildlife.

pond creation

Provision of pond(s) will help support these species as will provision of hibernacula (see reptile habitats section). Ponds should not built in existing wet areas unless an invertebrate survey shows that area is of low interest or that only portion of wet area affected. Building ponds in a dry area adjacent to a wet area is ideal, with shallow margins for small mammals to access and egress the pond, and an area of ​​deeper water, greater than 0.5 metres.

Installation of bird and bat boxes

Swift bricks should, wherever possible, be included within the fabric of new buildings making them more durable. As they have an opening from the outside which leads to a self-contained chamber, there is no risk of birds entering the inside of the building. Swift bricks are also suitable for other species and have been found to be regularly occupied by Starlings and House Sparrows (which are also on the RSPB’s Birds of Conservation Concern Red list) as well as Blue Tits.

In addition, there are a variety of bird boxes available suitable for different species. Swift boxes can be retrofitted onto existing development where Swift bricks are not an option. Swifts, House Sparrows and Starlings will nest under the eaves and in colonies, so 2 or 3 boxes can be sited, spaced out, on the same side of the house but should avoid south facing elevations and should ensure a clear, unobstructed entrance path.

Built in provision for bats in way of bricks/tubes/tiles is preferred as these will last for the lifetime of the building unlike boxes attached to a building or trees which are more susceptible to being removed and effects of weather.

Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs travel one to two kilometers a night, but their movement and journey options can be greatly inhibited by the presence of close boarded fences in gardens, resulting in many crossing the highway.

The provision of a small hole at the bottom of the fence (13cm by 13cm) will allow access for hedgehogs but not most pets. Provision of hedgehog homes is also appropriate, providing that they are sourced from a reputable wildlife box provider.

Invertebrates

Provision of wildflower (flower and grass species) areas comprised of native species suitable for soil on site will support range of invertebrate species and species that feed upon them (birds, hedgehogs, reptiles and bats).

These areas to be subject to long term management that will maintain the condition of the area, options for how area may be managed are provided at meadows.plantlife.org.uk/3-maintaining-meadows/ Provision of habitat/log piles will aid a wide range of invertebrates and may also be used by amphibians and reptiles.

reptile habitats

In areas where reptiles are known the provision of hibernacula/hibernaculum (underground chambers for use by amphibians and reptiles during the winter) should be created.

Part of the site around hibernacula should be managed to provide cover and food for reptiles, by way of longer vegetation that is not cut while reptiles are active.

Grass and shrub planting

Planting and seed mixes should be of native species appropriate to this area. Use of non-native species should be limited to only ones that provide known benefit to wildlife such as provision of nectar and pollen.

Providing planting for wildlife, and especially for pollinators forms a key part of the Green Net and significantly adds to nature reserves and forms a key component of habitat connectivity.

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