Just before the breeding season for birds is about to begin, several housing developers across the country have recently been putting netting over trees and hedgerows in an effort to prevent birds from nesting prior to construction work, which would necessitate felling of trees. The practice is used by developers to avoid delays, but the Woodland Trust and several other organisations claim that the practice, whilst not necessarily unlawful, shows a disregard for birds and other wildlife.
Lead campaigner - ancient woodland, conservation and external affairs, Jack Taylor said:
“The Trust has recently been made aware of instances where trees and hedges have been covered with netting in an attempt to prevent them being used by wildlife. This practice demonstrates an alarming disregard for the welfare of wildlife, particularly during the nesting season, as birds are being blocked from nesting. Other wildlife that may rely on hedgerow habitat, such as stoats, bank voles and hibernating hedgehogs, could become trapped.
“We are aware that developers can use this tactic to prevent birds from nesting and thereby avoid delays in the development process. It is an offence to take, damage or destroy an active nest, so by using netting to prevent nesting in hedges and trees developers can then remove these features during the nesting season. Natural England’s standing advice for development affecting birds clearly states that preventing nesting should only be considered as a mitigation option, used only outside the breeding season, and that replacement habitat should be provided. While not an illegal practice, we consider that netting hedges and trees during the nesting and breeding season is inappropriate.
“With the increasing urbanisation of the UK’s natural environment it is imperative that future development works in harmony with important habitats, not against them. The huge value of trees and green spaces for people must also be taken into account. They enhance built environments by intercepting rainfall, improving drainage, and providing shade, natural beauty and habitat. A shared understanding of the role and value of trees and green infrastructure in planned environments is key to creating vibrant, resilient and healthy communities.”
Public inquiries should be directed to 0330 333 3300.
The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.
The Trust has three key aims: i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.
Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.