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Green Roofs, Walls and Biodiversity

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Islington is a very built up borough. It has the smallest amount of green space per person of any London borough, but despite this lack of green space Islington is rich in wildlife. Research suggests that contact with nature and access to green space is important for mental and physical health and wellbeing; it can also help to reduce crime and enhance social interaction and community cohesion.

The biodiversity of Islington is supported by a network of parks and open spaces, gardens, rail side lands and waterways. Preserving and improving this green network is critical to protecting and enhancing biodiversity and helping wildlife to adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

Besides green spaces, buildings and built structures can also contribute to green networks – they are perhaps one of the most important types of habitat in Islington because they provide the biggest opportunity we have for improving biodiversity.

Green roofs (which can sometimes be referred to as brown or living roofs) and green walls in their simplest form are roofs or walls that have been intentionally greened with vegetation. They can be installed on existing and new buildings.  You can even install green roofs on garden sheds and or create a green wall by encouraging ivy to grow up a fence. For more information download the Good practice guidance on green roofs and walls.

As well as enhancing biodiversity, green roofs and walls can also provide a range of other benefits. These include improving the appearance of buildings; reducing the amount of rainwater that runs off buildings and into our drainage system (thereby reducing the threat of flash flooding); and helping to insulate buildings, reducing the energy demands and associated carbon emissions.

The use of green roofs and green walls are just two ways the council is encouraging people to use to enhance the built environment for biodiversity. Other options for conserving and enhancing biodiversity include installing artificial nesting sites for birds and bats, incorporating landscaping of high ecological value (e.g. by planting of trees, native hedges and other plants which encourage wildlife or creating a pond) and ensuring disturbance to wildlife from construction processes and lighting is minimised. For more information on these methods see the Good practice guide on biodiversity measures.

The council actively promotes the use of green roofs and walls and other features that are of benefit to the Borough’s biodiversity, particularly in new developments though the planning process. For more information on Sustainable Design in Islington see the council's Sustainable Design webpage.

For further advice and London-related information on green roofs and walls please see the following external links:

Image courtesy of bere:architects.

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