What wildlife is mainly affected by housing?

Your home and garden support a vast array of animals, but construction/renovating/modifying houses can have a negative effect on different types of wildlife in Britain. But there are changes you can make to give wildlife a home in your house or garden.

it is a surprised to us that not much has been written on this at all; there tends to be a focus on what we can do to encourage wildlife in a garden.

Here are three species to focus on as simple changes can have a big impact:

Swifts (Britain)

Swifts are very widespread in Europe and Asia during the summer, but in Britain their populations have suffered. Since 1995 the British Swift population has declined by 38 per cent and the species has been placed on the list of Birds of Conservation Concern as Amber, meaning it is in need of our help after its decline. This is mainly due to the loss of nesting sites. Buildings are continually repaired, so a proportion of the small holes and gaps that swifts like to nest in have been lost. In order to help Swift populations recover you can do the following things:

  • Fix a wooden swift box to the outside of your home to give them somewhere to nest.
  • Add eaves/keep the eaves on your house open so that swifts have more places to build their nests.

If you’d like to buy a Swift nest box you can get one from the RSPB here.

Bees

Technically housing is not the main culprit for the threat of bees, changes in agriculture is mainly to blame as there are less wild flowers for bees to pollinate.

The result of this has been that two species have become extinct in the UK since the start of the 21st century:

  • Cullem’s bumblebee (Bombus cullumanus), was last recorded in 1941.
  • The Short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus), was last recorded in 1988.

You’ll be helping bumblebees survive if you modify your garden to suit bees and give them a home:

  • Bumblebees need a box the same size as a small bird box. It should have two rooms: one filled with wood shavings for the queen to breed in, the other an empty compartment where the rest of the bees live.
  • Red mason bees need a box filled with hollow pipes, such as cut lengths of bamboo. They lay their eggs one at a time with a supply of pollen or nectar and a plug of mud between them.
  • A wood pile will make a safe home for various bees and other invertebrates.

Bats

Fortunately, all bats and their roosts are protected by law in Britain and it is a criminal offence to remove/harm them. Their population is stable, however, bat roosts are still vulnerable to building works done to a house, or if a house is being demolished.

In order to help bats you could:

  • Build a bat box in order to give them a secondary place to roost. You can buy one from the Bat Conservation Trust here.
  • Let them roost in your loft without any intervention.
bat

George Storey, Work Experience, 18th July 2016