Natural History Museum garden redesign could consign species to history

Monday 13th June 2016

Buglife is objecting to planning permission requested by the Natural History Museum to rip out and remodel the important ecological gardens on site due to the potential impact on rare and endangered invertebrates. There are 15 species of conservation concern noted within the gardens which could become locally extinct if the redevelopment goes ahead.

The at risk species include:  Acinia corniculata, a picture winged fly that is classed as endangered, as is the Ladybird Clitostethus arcuatusAnobium nitidum, a beetle found at fewer than 10 sites in the UK and Lucanus cervus, the iconic Stag beetle which is listed as a priority species on Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act and on Annex II of the Habitats Directive.

Craig Macadam, Buglife’s Conservation Director commented. “The gardens currently provide vital habitat for species struggling to exist in other places and acting as a ‘stepping stone’ for wildlife allowing them to move and disperse through urban green space and the wider landscape. Its loss could have a disproportionally large impact on populations of rare and endangered invertebrates. “

Many invertebrates are mobile and will use a variety of sites each day and for different stages of their lifecycle, for example certain food plants for caterpillars or a certain type of habitat to lay eggs. The fact that they are using this site at all indicates that it is an important ecological resource to local invertebrate populations. Its removal may mean that a vital resource is taken away. The species reliant on this are then unable to complete their lifecycle and may become extinct from the area.

Macadam concluded. “This site is of high value, it is made up of a mosaic of habitats in very close proximity and it is therefor able to fulfil the specialist requirements of a number of different species. There are endangered invertebrates and priority species present on site. The impact on these species should be properly assessed and a viable mitigation plan drawn up.”