Woodland Trust responds to 'sickening practice of preventing birds from nesting'

By agency reporter
March 19, 2019

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 for 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 and 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.”

* The Woodland Trust https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/

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