Aberdeen ranks among top 3 most wildlife-friendly cities in the UK, new data reveals

Aberdeen is the third most wildlife-friendly urban area in the UK with the great potential for rewilding projects of natural and green spaces. Photo by Sean McMenemy

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A NEW report has revealed that Aberdeen is the third most wildlife-friendly urban area in the UK, with the great potential for rewilding projects of natural and green spaces. 

Aberdeen has potential three times greater than some other UK urban areas for rewilding and becoming wildlife-friendly.

Thanks to its location on the North Sea coast and the River Dee, Aberdeen also has a high proportion of water within its urban boundaries, three times the amount of other urban areas in the UK such as Dundee,  Northampton, and Blackpool. 

Plus, it has more natural land cover and woodland than most other places in the UK — urban land area critical to support wildlife. 10% of the city is functional green space, highlighting the potential for rewilding projects. 

The study, collated by bird food specialists Ark Wildlife, analyses the latest Defra data to calculate the amount of existing wildlife-friendly natural land area. It also collates data on green space area, which highlights the potential to develop rewilding projects within the boundaries of each urban area. The measures include woodland area, waterways, and average garden size for the public to support wildlife.

Edinburgh tops the table, with a wildlife-friendly score four times higher than some other UK urban areas. The Scottish capital is top for percentage of functional green space highlighting the potential for rewilding projects. 

Greater London is second on the list — it ranks highly for functional green space and public green space, and also has more open water for its size than anywhere except Tyneside.

The findings come as calls for more to be done by urban planners to make room for wild spaces, particularly for new-build developments widening urban sprawl. The data highlights the potential for rewilding even in the most densely populated urban environments.

Where rewilding will be more challenging

Not all areas have an abundance of land available for rewilding, however, and some currently have little to offer local wildlife. 

Luton scores the lowest of all urban areas in the UK, with few watercourses and bodies of water, and limited natural woodland. After Luton, the least wildlife-friendly urban areas in the UK are Doncaster, Blackpool, York, and Brighton and Hove. 

Although it’s a stronghold of the Green Party, Brighton and Hove has less natural land cover than anywhere else in the country.

What can be done in urban gardens?

Gardens also play a crucial role in supporting species in urban areas. They provide a small oasis of greenery in built-up cities, particularly when natural spaces are in short supply. By introducing wildflowers and native plant species, people can help wildlife in a sustainable way.

Founder of Ark Wildlife Sean McMenemy commented:

“It’s great to see that many of our cities are helping wildlife to flourish. However, the gap between the top cities and the bottom ones is really quite shocking. It just goes to show that there’s always more we can do.”

“I hope studies like this one can jolt urban planners into action, because there are so many critically endangered species, who need help now. And even though there’s so much pressure to create new housing, rewilding and new housing can often go hand in hand. After all, people need green spaces too and easy access to nature is a huge selling point for housing.”

“Of course, members of the public can help local animals by making their gardens as inviting as can be, whether that involves planting wildflowers or simply adding a birdbath.”

John Pemberton, Conservation and Education Development Manager at wildlife-friendly landscapers idverde said:

“It is essential that wildlife has access to high quality habitat and corridors in our cities for both the benefit of nature and also human health and wellbeing.”

“Considering the needs of wildlife and biodiversity in the early stages of all decision making, and treating biodiversity as a genuine priority when making decisions about land use, management, development and care can prevent ill-considered actions taking place. This can also ensure that the needs of wildlife are met rather than being treated as an after-thought or a ‘nice to have’.” 

“Many councils have declared climate and/or ecological emergencies – this is one step in raising awareness, but the next is to ensure that this manifests into meaningful and positive action for nature.”

The full report can be viewed at : https://www.arkwildlife.co.uk/urban-rewilding-hotspots-uk-urban-wildlife-haven-report-reveals-tomorrows-most-wildlife-friendly-cities/


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