Image for Living with nature: five wildlife-friendly construction innovations

Living with nature: five wildlife-friendly construction innovations

Making developments more accommodating to nature will be crucial if the UK government is to meet its 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution. These wildlife-friendly construction measures could help

Making developments more accommodating to nature will be crucial if the UK government is to meet its 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution. These wildlife-friendly construction measures could help

Wildlife-friendly construction: bird-friendly bricks
Bird-friendly bricks

Swifts have made their homes in cracks and crevices of our buildings for thousands of years. But the style of modern construction has helped put populations under pressure. The swift nesting brick, developed by Manthorpe Building Products in conjunction with the RSPB, is a bid to help the birds during the summer when they stay in the UK to raise their young. The bricks feature sheltered tunnel entrances and drainage holes and provide a safe area to allow swifts – clean and quiet house guests – to nest.

Image: Manthorpe Building Products

Wildlife-friendly construction: wildflower verges
Wildflower verges

At the Kingsbrook development in Aylesbury, the RSPB is working with Barratt Developments to set ‘a new benchmark for wildlife-friendly housing’. Wildflowers feature prominently in plans, including strips of wildflower grassland to help form wildlife corridors and provide food for pollinators. Experts have also developed a ‘garden plant chooser’ document for residents, recommending plants that are easy to grow and useful to wildlife: for example, campanula, echinacea and marjoram.

Image: Jonas Smith

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Wildlife-friendly construction innovations: hedgehog highways
Hedgehog highways

Housebuilders now have to include ‘hedgehog highways’ in new developments, following a petition organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society in 2019. It means that small holes must be cut in the bases of fences, allowing hedgehogs to move freely between properties. Numbers of hedgehogs – which frequently top polls as the UK’s favourite animal – have sharply declined in recent years. They can travel several miles a night in search of food, so space to roam is crucial.

Image: Piotr Laskawaski

Bricks for bees
Bricks for bees

Bee Bricks, by Cornish B Corp Green&Blue, can be used in place of standard bricks in construction, or individually in gardens and green spaces. They contain cast tubes, nesting sites for solitary bees such as red mason and leafcutter bees. “Bee Bricks are slowly appearing on more biodiversity planning guidance documents across the country,” says Faye Clifton from the company. “We strongly believe that there is no such thing as sustainable development without consideration for biodiversity at the core of the design and decision making process.”

Image: Green&Blue

Amphibian-friendly kerbing
Amphibian-friendly kerbing

Amphibians making their way along our roads naturally follow the line of the kerb as they travel. When they reach a grid? Normally, they fall through into the gully below, where they generally die of starvation. The wildlife kerbs, which have been developed by UK company ACO Technologies, feature a ‘bypass pocket’ that amphibians can follow safely, avoiding the gully. ACO also makes tunnel, barrier and fencing systems to help protect amphibians and small mammals, as well as products to help birds and bats.

Image: ACO
Main image: Alexas Fotos

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