Plan to save wildlife haven brownfield sites

Meadow pipit
Meadow pipit

A new report has highlighted the importance of brownfield sites for wildlife in urban areas, and urges planners to look after nature right in the heart of Scotland’s towns and cities.

Called ‘brown’ because they’ve been developed on in the past, these areas are quickly re-colonised by insects, flowers and birds.

A surprisingly high number of rare species have been recorded from brownfield sites, including approximately half of rare solitary bees and wasps and a third of rare ground beetles.

The report was commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and written by Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust.

It provides step-by-step guidance on how to identify the best brownfield sites for wildlife.

The report recommends that local authorities re-develop brownfield sites in a coordinated way to ensure that, as some sites are lost, others are created. Co-ordinating redevelopment of land will ensure that brownfield areas can contribute to a network of green spaces in town and cities, such as parks, gardens and cemeteries.

Only about 2.5 per cent of Scotland’s land is considered urban - but with about 80 per cent of Scotland’s people now living in cities, towns and villages, it’s within these areas that most of us encounter wildlife.

Other wildlife found on brownfield sites includes brown hares, meadow pipits, marmalade hoverflies, buff-tailed bumblebees, burnet moths, oxeye daisies, black knapweed, clover, ivy, and honeysuckle.

Craig Macadam, Director for Buglife in Scotland, said: “Brownfield sites act a bit like stepping stones, allowing wildlife to move from one part of an urban area to another. Using that analogy, it’s possible for local authorities to move stepping stones about in such a way that wildlife can still move from one area to another.”

Iain Macdonald, Policy and Advice Officer with SNH, said: “Although the study concentrated on the importance of brownfield sites for wildlife, we found that a lot of these areas are also used by people for walking. Some people might look down on these areas as scruffy or abandoned, yet the truth is quite different. As part of the wider green network, these areas are greatly benefiting people, as well as the nature and wildlife, in our cities.”

For the full report, see http://www.snh.gov.uk/publications-data-and-research/publications/search-the-catalogue/publication-detail/?id=2062