Where an opportunity arises to develop a site for open space, promoting biodiversity should be given full consideration. This is not least because of the opportunity to promote wildlife, but also because if a site has existing biodiversity value, changing its nature to create open space may result in diminishing its value.

The challenge is to identify whether or not the existing biodiversity interest is of sufficient value to warrant avoiding any development. Would the benefits associated with a scheme outweigh changes to the biodiversity value of a site? It is also important to consider how an open space may contribute to the wider ecological network or green and blue infrastructure in a built up area.

Case Study: Greenhead Moss Community Nature Park

Wishaw– biodiversity creation

This community managed project transformed a former landfill into a local nature reserve bringing significant biodiversity to the area.  This included:

  • Reversal in decline of a remnant raised bog
  • 13 hectares of new native woodland habitat
  • Soil importation to create areas of wildflower meadow
  • Wetland area suitable for the Great Crested Newts
  • Water quality improved in Perchy Pond Local Nature Reserve by a reed-bed filtration system to treat landfill leachate
  • Erection and monitoring of bird, bat and owl boxes.
  • Creation of dragonfly ponds to alleviate flooding in some areas
  • Opening up scree areas for lizard and snake populations
  • Ongoing site management planning for biodiversity, access and education.

Wildlife networks

 For the purposes of developing previously developed land (PDL) for open space, the priority should be about integrating biodiversity, promoting new habitats and helping to grow clusters of wildlife networks.  This might involve consideration of how to link a scheme to another area of wildlife potential (see relevant local authority’s green infrastructure strategy if one is available) and prioritising particular species adapted to open spaces over more valued key species, provided no harm is posed to a known protected species on site.

A mixed use approach to PDL can be used to support biodiversity even where other uses are proposed.  For example, where a play area or sports pitch is created, there would be value in creating a separate, possibly safeguarded, open space dedicated to biodiversity.