London habitats 1 – green roofs

May 23, 2016

Habitats for wildlife in London are varied. Would most Londoners think of green roofs in the capital as wild space? I suspect not. And I am pretty sure most Londoners would not be aware of their existence.

A view of a green roof from the office window
A view from the office

However, green roofs are probably some of our wilder and more innovative wild places. Primarily most are out of mind and out of sight.  It is only fitting that  the #WildLondoncomp  offer a vehicle to celebrate and promote them to Londoners.

Habitats – A office view

Some people, because their office has a green roof, do get to view these habitats. In moments of reflection, they have the perfect view, but also chance to observe the wildlife. This roof in PWC’s London Bridge office is home to not only to the rare black redstart but also pied wagtails and goldfinches.

The roof, in fact is also home to a wide range of insects including Mason bees who reside in the bee hotel on the roof.

Green roof wild space are good for wildlife
Green roof wild space are good for wildlife

Equally important is that a view of green, and wild green at that, can improve both quality of life work experience and productivity in the work place. Surely that is something that all Londoners should have?

Nature working with renewable energy

London green roof habitat for wildlife alongside solar power
Nature and solar power working together on green roofs

Considering that the current Mayor has a commitment to increase the amount of renewable energy at roof level, he and his advisors need to recognise that nature can work with renewables too.For on this roof at Standard Chartered Bank nature and renewables work in harmony together.  Promoting and designing biosolar roofs is part of my day job so I am bound to say that surely this should be a major theme for the  National Park City to embrace?

People and wildlife on a single green roof

Food growing green roofs are habitats for nature too
Food growing green roofs are habitats for nature too

Roofs can also be places for people to venture onto – to grow food.  Many London business with green roofs are engaging staff in this way.  Growing food, whether at ground or roof level,  can help urban dwellers connect with nature. Most food growing roofs are small scale areas.  Engaging staff and citizens in food production, however small,  can help increase the quality of life of both residents and workers alike.

Habitats for wildlife in London
Evershed’s green roof in the city of London

Evershed’s 1 Wood Street is in the City of London. It has an area set aside of food growing and a large expanse of wild roof. Each year it opens its roof to the public as part of Open Squares Weekend. This year over 2000 people visited the roof to witness, not just the garden, but also the wild green roof that takes up most of the space.

There are thousands of square metres of green roofs in London. as this map I helped to create shows. However, London needs more of these spaces to be retrofitted. Not only for food growing but also for nature.  A National Park City should be a green roof capital of the world – lets make it happen.

Dusty Gedge is a green infrastructure specialist and naturalist.  He is a  recognised international public speaker on biodiversity green roofs and green infrastructure. He also co-authored the online green roof manual for small-scale green roofs

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