Biodiversity in the built environment

In urban areas, development and the swallowing up of green space for nature is unfortunately an ongoing threat to biodiversity. We need to ensure that sensitive development and wildlife can co-exist happily. By incorporating wildlife friendly features into new developments, we can mitigate for some of this effect. In some cases we can achieve net biodiversity gain, but it takes collaboration on all sides.

Peregrine Falcon (photo: Steve Morey)

Iconic species such as peregrine falcons, swifts and bats use built environments to roost and nest.  All are also important indicator species which allow us to monitor the health of the wider local ecosystem.  They also do a great job at engaging the public.

Ealing Wildlife Group (EWG) are committed to protecting birds of prey and other flagship species that will be impacted by building and development in Ealing. We aim to make building owners and developers aware of existing species using their sites. We will consult with developers, where possible, to make proposed building developments more suitable for these flagship species.

Building developments and conservation

Many local councils are putting in place requirements that mean new building developments must incorporate wildlife friendly features to compensate for loss of habitat for wildlife. Below are some great examples of how this can work in practice.

Swift conservation example

Bat conservation example

In our spirit of collaboration, we partnered with Ealing Council on this. Together with housing officers, we’ve been exploring opportunities for falcon nesting provision on existing buildings.   EWG are are also communicating with various developers,  planners and property managers to advocate for, and protect, birds of prey. Furthermore, we also consult on biodiversity in building management and proposed development plans.   

In addition, in order to enhance our work and contribute to wider issues, we work closely with conservation organisations such as; South West London Environment Network (SWLEN), London Bat Group and others.

To highlight the issue and to get people engaged, we invited Catherine Day, local Swift Officer for the RSPB, to speak to our members about how they can help swifts. We would like to make swifts and bats in buildings a future focus.  

Peregrine Falcons

Once almost extinct, this impressive raptor is making a comeback in urban environments. Tall buildings mimic their ancestral cliff ledge homes and make for great roosting sites. Hospitals, cathedrals and public buildings all over the country are welcoming peregrine falcons to breed on their roofs or ledges, and some are using webcams to showcase their iconic residents.

  • EWG have brought peregrine falcons to the attention of several building owners across Ealing, reminding them of their duties not to disturb this Schedule 1 protected species.
  • We’ve discussed protection/disturbance and put forward proposals for nesting provision for peregrine falcons with local developers Greystar and Bouygues

Bird of Prey Projects

Excitingly, we’re in talks with Ealing Hospital regarding the recently arrived pair using the hospital as a roost site. In early 2021, we hope to install our first peregrine nest boxes or platform in two locations, with webcams! We’ll keep you posted!

Liaising with developers is a never ending project. EWG will continue to alert building managers and developers to their legal commitments to existing protected or threatened species. We will also continue advising on how they can actively help these glorious species.