Stump up for biodiversity

Grow Zones, wetlands and more tree planting are amongst the recommendations of Redbridge Council’s Nature and the Environment Task & Finish Group. Councillor Paul Donovan (Wanstead Village, Labour) reports. Photo of new stag beetle stumpery on George Green by Geoff Wilkinson

The recommendations of Redbridge Council’s Nature and the Environment Task and Finish Group are among 14 coming out of the report, which seeks to extend biodiversity in the borough.

Other recommendations include developing wildlife corridors, phasing out pesticide use and promoting allotments and community gardens.

The report builds on work already underway as part of the council’s response to the climate and biodiversity crises as set out in the Climate Change Action Plan and Green Urban Landscape Policy. Together, they should bring a cleaner, greener Redbridge.

Grow Zones began in Wanstead. We have seen successful areas developed on George Green and Christchurch Green as well as at the Roding Valley Park, Elmcroft Avenue entrance.

There have been encouraging biodiversity gains at all of these sites, which helped in the effort to promote the idea across the borough.

We also need to look at how to encourage measures to help biodiversity on private land, the council’s recent fruit tree giveaway was one such initiative.

It was a concern raised by community groups giving testimony to the Task and Finish Group that too much of the borough is going under concrete. This has been happening incrementally, with front and back gardens getting concreted over for a variety of reasons. The report calls for a review of present processes, with possible stipulations to be considered on the amount of an area that remains in a natural state.

The report highlights the potential for wetland developments that can help deal with flood threats as well as extend biodiversity. And as Walthamstow Wetlands and others across the country show, they are a great visitor attraction.

A review of the Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation with a view to extending their coverage is another integral element of the report.

The whole approach has to be holistic, taking in every part of life. So, when developers build new housing stock, there must be a net biodiversity gain (this is being mandated in the Environment Act recently adopted by parliament).

All parts of the environmental policy need to interact, from planting more trees and developing wetlands to facilitating more active travel and extending the electricity vehicle charging network.

All of these things need to work in unison if the dual threats of biodiversity and climate disaster are to be tackled. Important work is already underway and I hope this report will contribute to making our borough a greener place to live to the benefit of nature and people.

For more information on Redbridge Council’s Nature and the Environment Task and Finish Group’s report, visit wnstd.com/naturereport