Looking after wildlife
Bromley's biodiversity is important to people living and working in the Borough for many different reasons. Sometimes we take it for granted. Charles Darwin, who lived in the borough for forty years, didn't take it for granted; the biodiversity we appreciate was an inspiration to him and his insights into the natural world.
Get to know your site
Any park or green space can have potential for wildlife so don’t rush in to do things, research your site first. Ask a member of the Parks team with wildlife experience to meet you on site to discuss what can be done.
For further reading see both the Best Practice Guidelines for Friends Groups and Volunteers and the Best Practice Guidelines for Land Managers.
Are there any rare plants or animals living there? Look at the site history as well as what is growing there now. Is there woodland on the site? Is it very old (look at old maps and the woodland plants growing there)? Is it on Natural England’s Ancient Woodland Inventory?
If there is ancient woodland on site it is important to look after the small plants growing on the woodland floor because although the trees were regularly harvested for fuel, to make charcoal and for hedging, fencing, tools, building and furniture, the ground was relatively undisturbed, so these plants may be the oldest things in the wood.
Was some of the land farmed for crops? Was it pasture? Some meadow plants are typical of old grassland, others may have been encouraged or introduced long ago as fodder crops.
Ensure any planting is site suitable
It is always a good idea to look after the wild plants you have and manage the land to encourage native plants already there and in the seedbank. Native plants support more invertebrates and therefore more native animals such as birds and bats. If you have to buy in native plants make sure they are grown in the UK from UK stock and preferably from south-east England. Make sure they ‘belong’ in the site you wish to plant them in, i.e. don’t plant daffodils on an ancient woodland site and never plant garden varieties in ‘wild’ sites.
In addition to planting appropriate and native species, it’s always good to look out for plants that don’t belong on your site and remove them, for example, Spanish bluebells. Garden plants may hybridise with or out-compete native species, and are unsuitable for many native invertebrates and therefore reduce site biodiversity. They may have been planted in error or have established through green waste dumping.
Make sure any work you do is seasonally appropriate
- Scrub clearance - must only be done during the winter, approx Oct-March (observe weather and act accordingly) this will ensure that birds are not disturbed during the nesting season. Note: it is against the law to disturb nesting birds.
- Coppicing - when leaves have dropped – mid winter
- Tree planting approx Nov – Feb
- Pond/ditch work Sept and October are the best months; most amphibians will have left ponds by then and they will not have started hibernating. If you have rare species on site, e.g. Great Crested Newts, seek further advice.
- Fires on site Oct – March. Try not to have fires on site. If you have no alternative, re-use old fire sites whenever possible and remove the ash when cold.
- Hedge trimming Nov- Feb. It is not necessary to cut hedges every year. Natural England recommends that hedges are cut only twice over a six year period. Consider cutting sides of a hedge on rotation. Click here to see also posters on hedgerow management.
- Grass cutting Sept – Oct, leave till late summer to ensure the seed has set. Always try and remove any cuttings that you produce (you could either pile them up on site as a habitat pile or remove them off site and compost them)
As you can see from the above list – most habitat based work needs to be carried out during the winter (Oct –March), leaving you the summer months to concentrate on more site based tasks such as footpath clearance and maintenance, furniture repair and installation and survey work.
Consider adding value to the site through...
- Bat boxes / bird boxes etc – but discuss how you will check, clean and record what is using them.
- Leave some wild areas as insect refugia.
- Make log piles and/or stag beetle loggeries. Leave dead wood on site whenever it is safe to do so as it is important for invertebrates, fungi and creatures that eat them.
- Maintain main paths in good condition and discourage trampling elsewhere within your site as this will reduce biodiversity.
British Wild Flowers
Friends of the Earth
Orpington Field Club
The Wildlife Trusts
Bromley Biodiversity Plan
Bullfinches in Bromley
Help Our Hedgehogs
Toads are in Trouble
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
Surveying for Reptiles
Slug & Snail Control
Non-Native Invasive Species
Rare & Declining Plants
Rare & Declining Birds
Rare & Declining Butterflies
Rare & Declining Fungi
European Protected Species Consultation Report