Newsletter January 2013                                     

Happy New Year!


Apologies for not having produced a newsletter since July. I will try to do better this year.



What we’ve been doing


Mainly focussing on bees! Local naturalist John Wells took us on a walk in July, pointing out the plants favoured by bees. It was a very overcast evening so we didn’t see many bees but we learned a lot.


Our November meeting was on “Bees in Danger”, with Rob Mitton from Royal Holloway College talking about the effects of pesticides, and Quentin Givens from FoE outlining the Bee Cause campaign. It was advertised quite widely and we had an audience of around 35, who asked many questions and contributed to a lively discussion.

In the summer, we asked children aged 13 and under to send us photos of bees. We’ve chosen three pictures, which can be seen on our website, and the photographers have each received a jar of local honey.


One of the pictures was not just of one bee, but many thousands! Oliver Ryder from Greenford saw them swarming in a tree in his front garden. His parents contacted Ealing Beekeepers, who took the swarm. Oliver’s mother said they are now in Walpole Park.


Text Box: Animal Welfare Bazaar
Saturday 2 March, 10.30 – 4.00
Hanwell Methodist Church, Church Road, W7 1DJ

Once again we’ll be having a stall at this event (now in its 35th year!) Help on the day would be welcome; contact Virginia on 020 8847 0016 or

Green Roofs


This was one of the topics covered at last November’s Wildlife Gardening Forum Conference


Architect Justin Bere’s pictures of his own roof showed that green is not the only colour – a wide variety of flowering plants can be used, attracting numerous insects and birds. For instance, common vetch appeals to aphids, a major food source for sparrow chicks.


Dusty Gedge, President of the European Federation of Green Roof Associations, outlined the many potential benefits of green roofs: biodiversity, energy, water, amenity, agriculture, reduction of noise and air pollution, carbon sequestration. He stressed that green roofs should be designed for their surroundings, using native plants as much as possible. Many architects will recommend sedum (60% of sedum blanket used in the UK is imported from Holland) but most of them know next to nothing about green roofs!

65% of the area of the City of London is roof; about a third of this could be greened.


Green roofs and photovoltaics are not incompatible, and can be mutually beneficial: PV produces more energy on green roofs because it works better at ambient temperatures of around 30% and the vegetation helps to keep temperatures down. PV panels provide shade, shelter and water runoff.


architecture,buildings,businesses,cities,cityscapes,metropolitan areas,office buildings,skylines,skyscrapersClare Dinham from Buglife described a study of six biodiverse roofs in London. Different substrates (eg sand, good for burrowing bees and wasps) and varied depths created a diversity of habitat. Additional features included logs, deadwood piles and even small ponds and damp areas.


Dr Richard Miller, Head of Sustainability for the Technology Strategy Board, talked about the Green Infrastructure of Future Cities. While the benefits of green infrastructure eg improved air quality, urban island heat mitigation, reduction of stormwater runoff etc, are generally recognised by planners, there is less emphasis placed on wildlife and biodiversity.


Just as there is competition for space at ground level, so roof areas are subject to varied demands. Not only from photovoltaics: reflective roofs are becoming widely used, especially where hot summers mean heavy reliance on air conditioning. A hundred square meters of white roof surface can save ten tonnes of carbon dioxide emission over 20 years. California is now mandating reflective roofs for some non-residential flat or low-sloped roof buildings over a certain area.  In the case of photovoltaics, these are now often integrated into the structure itself rather than bolt-on, so it’s not possible to use them with green roofs. However, next-generation PV made of screen-printed semi-transparent plastic could be compatible with planting.


Green walls can also be made wildlife-friendly.


If you’d like to know more about green roofs, have a look at these websites: – an independent organisation promoting green/living roofs in the UK. Their website provides information on research into the benefits of green roof and walls, and case studies of projects. (Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield) offers guidance to anyone considering installing a green roof offers a Green Roof Toolkit: guidance on planning, design and maintenance


and see also  Technical Support supporting London Plan Policy on Living Roofs and Walls


For information on Buglife and its projects, go to




Streetbank is an organisation designed to reduce consumption and promote community spirit by helping people share things and skills with their neighbours. It could be garden tools, cake tins, books, DVDs, bike repair, dog walking … the possibilities are endless. You could save money and make friends. It’s all free and you can cancel any time.


All you have to do is sign up with your name and postcode and one item or skill you’d like to share, and then you can see all the offers within one mile radius of your home.


Go to to find out more.



RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Once again the RSPB is asking people to take part in its Big Garden Birdwatch - the world's biggest wildlife survey.

They’re asking people to count the birds in their garden or local park for one hour at any time over the weekend of 26-27 January, and then submit their results. These help to show how garden birds are doing, so the more people take part, the more can be learnt.


Go to to register and to download a counting sheet to help you keep track of the birds you see. 


Finding the right approach


Recent research published in the journal Psychological Science indicates that people who describe themselves as conservatives tend to worry less about the environment than people who think of themselves as liberal. However, self-identified American conservatives could be stirred to concern about environmental threats when these were presented in terms of “purity” and “sanctity” of Earth and our bodies.


communications,environmental awareness,factories,industries,investigative reporting,news reporters,news stories,occupations,persons,pollutions,reporters,smokestacks,womenStudies of newspaper articles and pro-environmental videos showed that the argument was generally pitched in terms of moral obligation to care about and protect nature. This approach resonated with liberals, but not with conservatives.  


Images of people drinking filthy water, forests full of rubbish, and polluted cities impressed conservatives more than pictures considered more typical of the visuals promoted by pro-environmental groups, such as forests with tree stumps, barren coral reefs or drought-cracked land. This may be because they could relate to the former images through their own experience. The disgust they felt at this contamination was more likely to lead them to increase support for protecting the environment.                             Source:



A Farm for the Future

Sunday 27 January at 7.30 at St Mary’s Church, St Mary’s Road, Ealing W5 5RH


Ealing Transition are re-showing this inspiring film about film maker Rebecca Hosking’s exploration of the challenges faced by modern farming.

With her father close to retirement, Rebecca returns to her family’s wildlife-friendly farm in Devon to become the next generation to farm the land. However she is alarmed by how energy-intensive farming is, and realizes that a new way of working may be necessary.

With the help of pioneering farmers and growers, she explores ways of farming without high inputs of fossil fuel. In the process, she learns that it is actually nature that holds the key to farming in a low-energy, low carbon future.


Entry free but donations requested to help cover the cost of screening. Refreshments will be served.


Bioenergy and the Future

Interactive session at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre

Thursday 24 January 19.00 – 21.00


Our climate is changing, and oil reserves are running low - we have a big problem, which isn't going away any time soon. Could bioenergy be part of the solution?

Maybe - but bioenergy raises its own concerns. For instance, with rising food prices, should we be using our farm land to grow energy crops? And what could be the impact on biodiversity, farmers and the economy?

Join leading researchers and ethicists for an interactive session to discuss the future of bioenergy. What will the sustainable lifestyle of 2030 look like, and how can we steer bioenergy research today to reach that goal?

Come and join in this evening of lively discussion.

This event is hosted by Dr Marta Entradas of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The BBSRC is interested in understanding your views, concerns and aspirations for the future of bioenergy so they can feed these into their strategy and policies around bioenergy.

The Dana Centre is at 165 Queen’s Gate, Kensington SW7 5HD

This event is free but must be pre-booked: 020 7942 4040 or