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What a batty idea! Mayor wants to rehouse bats in nesting boxes on estates

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:24 18 October 2019

Mayor John Biggs... bringing poplar trees back to places like Poplar and this one in Victoria Park. Picture: LBTH

Mayor John Biggs... bringing poplar trees back to places like Poplar and this one in Victoria Park. Picture: LBTH

LBTH

A plan to protect the East End's wild life with nesting boxes for birds and bats has been unveiled by Tower Hamlets Council.

Housing workers Mark Hewson and Jan Webber install nesting box on estate in Hackney Road in 2013. Picture: Tower Hamlets HomesHousing workers Mark Hewson and Jan Webber install nesting box on estate in Hackney Road in 2013. Picture: Tower Hamlets Homes

Mayor John Biggs took it under his wing when he planted a black poplar tree in Victoria Park to launch the "biodiversity blueprint" for the next five years.

"We have to protect our biodiversity for its own sake as well as having contact with nature," he pledged.

"Our buildings are home to rare birds like the peregrine falcon and black redstart.

"We also have special wild parklands like Tower Hamlets Cemetery, Mudchute and Mile End Park despite the East End being one of the most densely-populated areas in the country."

Nicknamed 'Kevin the Wapping Kingfisher' snapped in the old London Docks in 2014. Picture: Mark BaynesNicknamed 'Kevin the Wapping Kingfisher' snapped in the old London Docks in 2014. Picture: Mark Baynes

The black poplar he planted is now Britain's rarest native timber tree. Yet it was once so common along the Thames that the old parish of Poplar was named after it.

Rare kingfishers and red kites are also making a comeback along the Thames and are sometimes spotted in the old London Docks at Wapping.

The mayor's Biodiversity Plan sets out how habitats and species can be conserved by planting new meadows, orchards, nectar-rich flowers and native trees in parks, housing estates and schools.

It also makes sure new housing developments have nest boxes for birds and bats, an idea that first took wing in 2013 when Tower Hamlets Homes installed them on 27 estates.

Mayor Biggs and the council's biodiversity team in Victoria Park. Picture: LBTHMayor Biggs and the council's biodiversity team in Victoria Park. Picture: LBTH

A housing spokesman tweeted at the time: "Many native urban birds like sparrows and starlings are on the decline, so we're giving them help with nesting boxes."

Bat boxes were placed in likely locations for the winged creatures to find, including Hackney Road.

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