Other green work to improve bio-diversity
Why is bio-diversity is important
Bio-diversity is essential to life on earth; to humans as much as to plants and animals. We live in large and small, inter-dependent, eco-systems. For example plants need insects, and not just bees, to help pollination and they in turn need different plants to feed on and safe places to live and breed. Humans and animals need plants to eat. The more diverse the plant kingdom, the more resilient they are e.g. to a disease, which can wipe out a single species. There is growing appreciation that having a range, be it of plants or creatures, is far better than any single mono-culture. Over at least a century, bio-diversity has been damaged by the use of insecticides, weedkillers, pollution and the trend to make public parks look like lawns, in addition to intensive building, removing trees and hedgerows, paving over gardens and green spaces and other attacks on the natural environment.
The good news is that the biodiversity on Stoke Newington Common has improved dramatically over the past 20 years, not least because of the now mature, deep, native, hedgerows, extensive tree planting, wildflower meadows and more relaxed mowing. Also the railway embankment provides a natural corridor and this is being maintained in a more environmentally friendly way these days.
We are currently trying to audit the range of plants. As well being interesting in itself, this helps monitor any changes over time, particularly to check if the number or types of plants increase (good) or decrease (bad), and, if the latter, try to find out why.
As well as a wide range of trees, plants and birds, pipistrelle bats are frequently seen on the Common.
Over recent years, Hackney Council's Parks Department has taken serious steps to try to improve bio-diversity across the borough. You might have noticed that the grass around the edges of the Common is left to grow long over the summer. Even if this looks a bit untidy, it provides food, shelter and hiding places for insects and other small creatures. There is an active biodiversity group in Hackney, which is facilitated by the Parks Department and meets regularly to discuss issues around the borough.
Creating more habitats
Over the years SNUG has created nesting boxes for birds and 'bug hotels'. Along with the now extensive hedging and trees, these provide a safe space way for birds and other creatures to breed.
We commissioned London Wildlife Trust (LWD) to lead a family workshop to show us how to make nesting boxes for birds.
25 children and their parents/ carers had a lovely mor
ning putting these together. We have spotted some blue-tits and others using them.
'Bug hotels' were created on the Rectory Road strip of the Common, to give beetles and others a home. Boys from the local Sunshine after-school group helped us dig the (very deep) holes to plant the logs (so that they rotted).
They love a bit of rotten wood to munch and live in. In 2013, we spotted some stag beetles (pictured). These are now listed by GIGL. If you see anything which you think might be interesting or unusual, let us know, or contact GIGL