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Opinion: We need to ensure Preston’s urban natural environments are protected

Posted on - 9th December, 2012 - 11:30am | Author - | Posted in - Opinion
starlings

Starlings swoop over St Peter’s Church and the UCLan Library

Do you ever have those moments when you see something so naturally beautiful your heart sings? I live in an urban area of Preston, when I am out and about with my seven year old son I try to help him see the wonders of nature that surround us.

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The peregrine falcons swooping down for their prey from St Walburge’s steeple, a couple of swans and their cygnets flying across Preston docks their necks outstretched before them. One recent summer we even spotted a roe bounding across the play area on Maudland Bank near Fylde Road.

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We don’t have a car so its not always easy to access the countryside, so seeing wildlife thriving in urban areas extra special. I believe it is important for children to realise that this is not just a human planet.

So it made me feel really sad to see the tall conifer trees on the UCLan campus, close to Harrington Street, felled. For the past couple of years my son and I have watched in wonder as flocks of starlings went home to roost in these trees.

It wasn’t just me who felt this way, an article ran in the LEP as a student at the university expressed her concern, what saddened me more were the comments that followed. People complaining about the birds, that they poo on their cars, they made a mess, they were pests, there was a big enough park for them less than a mile away. I wanted to shout, whose world is this anyway?

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I contacted the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. Nothing was going to bring the trees back but perhaps something positive can come out of a negative. I received some very detailed replies from conservation officer Dave Dunlop who said: “All wild birds, their nests, eggs and young have legal protection, under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). However, their habitual roosts do not. The nesting season for birds is generally taken as February to August.”

He went onto explain that: “A felling licence is required to fell more than five cubic metres of timber in a given three month period subject to certain exemptions – for example because the trees in question constitute a hazard to human health or safety because they are diseased and liable to topple and/or lose heavy branches in strong winds.”

Those on the UCLan campus were felled for health and safety reasons.

So how can we help attract and keep wildlife in and around Preston City Centre? Chris Taylor from Lancashire Wildlife Trust got in contact and said there is a new volunteer group, Preston Environmental Forum, supported by Preston City Council and Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

The forum is a collaboration of people involved in environmental and community projects as well as interested residents.  There is lots of scope for the group to drive environmental projects and improvements around the city.

Sign up to Project Dirt to keep updated on everything that is going on with Preston Environmental Forum. Go tohttp://www.projectdirt.com/project/7577/

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