Fake, plastic, trees

lollipop treeDevelopers are destroying any chance for children to engage with the natural world by their insistence on ripping up our native, wild trees and planting fake lollipop trees in their place.

Beaulieu Park, in Rainham, Kent is the latest in a long line of ugly housing developments by McCulloch homes. Once this land was alive with goldfinches and nightingales nesting in the hedgerows now it is a sea of mud with some tired, twisted trees at the entrance.

Nature has been squashed, nature is not wanted in such places. Nature is only acceptable when controlled.

George Monbiot, in his book Feral, laments the Nature Deficit Disorder inflicting our children. “Children confined to their homes become estranged from each other and nature. Obesity, rickets, asthma, myopia, the decline in heart and lung function all appear to be associated with sedentary indoor life.”

He goes on to hope that “Every new housing development include some self-willed land in which children can play.”

Fat chance, when developers, such as McCulloch, are intent on destroying every inch of the natural world on the land they purchase.

If McCulloch homes had left just a little of the botanical richness that this site once contained they could have provided a window into the natural world for the children that came to live there.

A fringe of hawthorn trees, a small meadow of the orchids which once bloomed here, a patch of teasel for the goldfinches to feed on. Instead they chose to rip every living thing out of this site and replace it with their vision of nature. Pathetic, hot housed, subject to the will of man.

Like so many developments blotting our country, these buildings say nothing about their locality, give no nod to a sense of place. They impose their will over nature and trap our children in their homes unable to even imagine the wild that once bloomed here.

 

Help save out swifts

A single swift would make for a very sad summer. They are one of those birds that form a backdrop to our lives but spend theirs so far above our heads that we wouldn’t notice they were in trouble until they were gone.

Our Swifts are in trouble. Their numbers have dropped by 53% in the last twenty years and in many places in the UK the summer skies are silent.

One of the main problems is the loss of nesting sites. Swifts are sociable and loyal. They mate for life and the pair meet each year at the same location to nest. Once there, they gather together nesting material from the air and create a nest in the cavity by sticking together the feathers, straw and paper with salvia.

I love this image. I love the fact that if I brush my hair outside and stray hairs go floating up towards the clouds they may end up making a nest for young swifts. I love the idea of swifts travelling the world and meeting up at the same hole in a old building down the road from me.

Problem is, in this age of house renovations they may return to find their historic nesting site is no more. Developments, particularly of old churches, pubs and houses, means that there are less and less places for swifts to nest. Yes, there are swift nest boxes but it’s not easy to attract swifts to use them. Yes, we most certainly should be making all new developments swift friendly by installing swift bricks below the eaves but we can also do more to protect those places the swifts know and love.

A stroll along my street over the last few days has revealed that swifts are living in all manner of old houses, probably unbeknown to their occupants. Inside these tiny crevices in the brickwork young swifts are practicing press ups on their wing tips to help strengthen the muscles. I wouldn’t want to see them evicted.

Look out over the next few weeks for tell tale signs. Swifts screaming low over roof tips. swifts vanishing into walls, droppings down the outside of buildings with holes in the brickwork or crevices under the eaves. Report your sightings on the RSPB swift survey.

This survey is easy to fill in and makes planners and developers aware of swift hotspots and hopefully protect them.

I for one am delighted to discover that my road still provides a home for these amazing birds, let’s work together to keep them in our summer skies.

Now you see it, Now you don’t.

 

scrubland-destroyed

In two days this area of scrubland and meadow was destroyed.

Are you feeling as overwhelmed as I am by the rate of destruction of wildlife rich sites around your town? Every day I seem to drive along a road and see a place which last year was full of song birds and slow worms and this year has been ripped apart by would be developers.

 

Last year these sites would have already been given planning permission and be ringed with reptile exclusion fencing this year things have changed. With the government brow beating local councils into providing land for housing then cowboy developers everywhere are seeing the main chance.

Suddenly it seems there is a flood of people ripping out scrub, tearing up meadows, turning over reptile sites with no planning permission, no surveys, no mitigation. In the last few weeks two sites near to my home have gone the way of the bulldozers with not a reptile exclusion fence in sight.

Presumably the landowners feel that in the present climate they can get away with it. After all, isn’t this what the Government wants? Not all this old scrub, bristling with bird song but land laid bare ready for bricks and mortar?

The terrible thing is that these developers are probably right. Natural England has already been stripped to their bones and wildlife officers in local councils have gone the way of the dinosaurs. And I? I can be angry at them all. I can rally and weep and rage against every destruction of meadow and scrubland, every reduction in my quality of life, every step my home makes away from the countryside and into suburbia but I cannot fight them all. The epidemic of destruction is simply too big.