Insect havens in towns and cities

No Insectinction – how to solve the insect declines crisis

Room for insects to thrive

Insect havens for towns and cities

Our wildlife is not limited to the countryside. Many insect species share our urban areas with us, and some are increasingly found nowhere else. Local authorities, businesses and individuals can all take action that will help the recovery of insect populations and make space for wildlife in towns and cities. Our spatial planning system must be much more insect-friendly. Increased use of green infrastructure such as green roofs, wildflower grasslands, ponds, hedgerows and rain gardens in development proposals will provide habitat and stepping stones for insects, allowing them to move and disperse to urban green-space and the wider landscape.

Brownfield sites can support a huge diversity of wildlife, often providing refuges for insects that have been lost elsewhere. Brownfields can include quarries, disused railway lines, spoil heaps, and former industrial sites that have been allowed to return to nature. Often these are the only wildlife-rich areas left in our towns and cities. However, development pressure is threatening the future of many key sites.

Urban green-space can include a wide variety of land uses including parks, cemeteries, communal ground in residential areas, school grounds, road verges, gardens, golf courses, business parks, hospitals, company premises, brownfield sites, river banks, and railway lines – all of which offer opportunities to be managed for people and wildlife. There are good examples of public green-space being managed for insects, but we must ensure that this becomes the norm.

We can stop, and reverse the global declines in our insects, but only if everyone pulls together to do their bit.

Small steps can have a huge impact if they all fall at the same time Five things you can do to reverse insect declines

What has to happen?

  • Local and national planning guidance must be clear that developments are expected to incorporate wildlife-friendly green infrastructure.
  • Local plans must direct development away from existing wildlife-rich habitats and refer to maps showing where wildlife-rich habitats will be restored or created in the future – incorporating B-Lines and Important Invertebrate Areas.
  • Planning applications must include surveys and assessments of impacts of invertebrates.
  • On-line tools such as the ‘Wildlife Assessment Check’ and ‘Buglife Planning Hub 8’ should be used to ensure that developments are insect-friendly.
  • Brownfield sites of high environmental quality should be identified in the local plan, protected from development, and managed to ensure that they continue to provide suitable habitat for insects and other wildlife.
  • Management of public open space must provide more shelter and nesting areas for insects. Wildflowers and insect-friendly formal planting and management should be the norm in urban green-space. Advice on producing local pollinator action plans is available.
  • Individuals, families and businesses can all help insects by planting pollen-and nectar-rich flowers, by maintaining areas of wildflowers and shrubs, by creating ponds or wetlands, by providing nest sites for solitary and bumblebees such as areas of long grass, bare ground, dead wood and bee hotels, and by avoiding the use of insecticides.

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We can solve the insectinction crisis, but we need to act quickly, and we need your help. Please help us to be the voice for insects, so we can fight for a wildlife filled planet for future generations.

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