Podiums are very much in the news at the moment as developers try to maximise return on investment, by incorporating green infrastructure and open space into the fabric of their buildings. The imagery provided by promoters of these developments suggest the creation of a oasis in the clouds. However the reality can be different. Podium landscapes have substantial physical requirements that need to be incorporated: sufficient light, depth of soil for successful growth and a source of water, among other things. These factors can all drive costs up. After planning permission is obtained value engineers get involved to control the build out costs and Landscape architects know that landscape costs are always in the firing line!
The reality of providing podium landscapes can be prohibitive. Podiums that are implemented successfully have a simple but effective design approach. Design must not compromise function and a low cost (and low risk) approach may provide all the benefits without the limitations. For example, using resilient planting adapted to drought or exposed coastal conditions can be visually pleasing and not require irrigation or the loading requirements that tree planting needs. Coastal margin plants or acid heathland plants and chalkland meadow in designed plant communities with pebble pools and rain gardens arranged in a mosaic can be a very attractive solution in these situations.
Illustrated here is Nigel Dunnett’s exemplar podium landscape at the Barbican. Here limited tree planting is used but naturalistic swathes of drought tolerant perennials, grasslands and shrub planting provide planting with year round interest.
The new draft London Plan and it’s drive for increased building densities means that a functional and cost-effective approach to greening and future proofing the city is required to ensure these features are affordable and risk free.
Love them or leave them, bats are amongst the most fascinating and highly protected species in Britain. Kent's skies have been notably empty of the greater and lesser horseshoe bat. That was until this summer when the unmistakable "alien" warbles of the greater horseshoe bat were recorded on two separate occasions in Kent - for the first time in 115 years!
Both of these species are elusive and typically inhabit south-west England and Wales, roosting and hibernating in the underground caves and tunnels of the regions.
The Bat Conservation Trust suggest this bat is a lost migrant from the continent or from natural dispersal from the west. The increase in spring temperatures and rainfall associated with climate change affects not only insect populations but also encourages earlier hibernation emergence and birthing times. These factors are currently driving the horseshoe bats to expand across their former range.
Last week's release of the latest edition of the State of Nature Report paints a bleak picture for Britain's priority species and habitats, with an average reduction of 41% in the abundance of protected species since 1970 due to agricultural intensification, climate change and habitat fragmentation due to urban expansion.
However the report has also revealed over the same period 26% of species have increased in number - the single most important contributing factor being climate change providing new niches for species to exploit.
The fact that climate change is one of the single most significant factors affecting species loss and gains highlights the struggle in wildlife conservation between climate "winners" and "losers". Conservation must balance the urgent need to reduce the impacts of climate change (among other drivers of extinction) and the need to facilitate the safe passage and establishment of climate driven opportunistic migrants to new regions. In which case let's hope that Kent's latest new bat resident is here to stay!
Froideaux, J.S.P., Boughey, K.L., Barlow, K.E. et al (2017) Factors driving population recovery of the greater horsehoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) in the UK: implications for conservation.
Biodiversity and Conservation, 26: 1601 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-017-1320-1
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