Saturday, 16 January 2016

Urbanisation and loss of green verges in Kingston


Everyone has the opportunity to make amends. Under the tarmac there is a geology, a soil type, a seed bank and a memory of what used to be there. G. Greer

In the data holdings of the London Biological Records Centre, many districts in Kingston have been identified as 'areas deficiencient in green space'. Species already facing problems of urbanisation, can reach a tipping point with the continued increase of the built environment and severance of links with green spaces. This includes insects, especially the polinators and of course, many of the species that predate on insects.

For birds, the tipping point varies dependent on the 'community' they belong to: for example house sparrows have a greater tolerance to the process of 'urbanisation' than the woodland bird community. For bats the tipping point has been deemed as 60% built surface, which includes lighting. Some years ago the council   designated verges in Chessington as 'Sites of Nature Conservation Importance' and in conjunction with Surrey County Council Guidance wrote that:

'Green verges are important for biodiversity, the continuity of green corridors and for attenuating heavy rain fall'. During 2014, the council via its main contractor Quadron, began to manage seven roadside verges for wildflowers by annual seed sowing to encourage plants and insects. The Grassland Habitat Action Plan, 2014, which we hoped to see incorporated into the Green Spaces Strategy, requires that there be no net loss of any grass verges in the borough.

So why are we concreting over the grass verges in New Malden?  Grass verges in Chessington have also been lost to tarmac especially at the new Malden Rushett T junction where bus shelters have been installed as the process of urbanisation into the green belt continues. This week this article appeared in the Surrey Comet....

'Which is worse, a street with grass verges covered in dog mess, or one without grass verges at all? That is the dilemma facing a group of New Malden residents after their pavements were resurfaced following a number of incidences of dog fouling. Kingston Council ordered the removal of the verges last week'.Grass_verge_tarmacked_over_in_New_Malden_street_due_to__persistent_dog_fouling_
Grass verge Windsor Road
New tarmac
It is ironic that this is in an area, which is already prone to poor surface water drainage and would benefit from measures designed to attenuate the flow of water, such as increasing the amount of absorbant grass verge and preventing paving over of front gardens. Perhaps the people who made the decision to do this should take a look at the Government Guidance on the importance of verges or even enrol on the Government's National Pollinator Strategy implementation plan. Defra has committed to working with organisations, to improve knowledge sharing of pollinators' needs between scientists, conservation practitioners and NGOs. This event, will look at managing and creating space for pollinators in the urban environment, with a focus on grassland, particularly amenity and  verge areas. These habitats cover large amounts of public urban land, found to be between 30-40% of the total land area of four cities studied
The workshop will seek to:
  • Identify and share between participants the common success factors from best practice examples of the management of roadside verges and amenity grassland.
  • Understand what steps all organisations must take to collaborate effectively in the face of differing pressures and challenges.
Venue: 2 Rivergate, Bristol, City of Bristol BS1 6EG (Next to Bristol Temple Meads station)Date: Monday 22nd FebruaryTiming: 10:30am (Registration from 10am) until 4pm.

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