Apart from looking good, urban parks and open spaces provide places for wildlife to live, obtain shelter and gather food, and increasingly a refuge. For many people this is the only opportunity for them to see and enjoy wildlife.
Wildlife does play an important part in keeping parks and open spaces healthy, in that plants are pollinated, pests are naturally controlled and waste materials are naturally recycled. Not least is the pleasure gained by many in listening to birdsong, watching butterflies and feeding the ducks.
What can you find in Westgate Parks?
The landscape leading from Westgate towers through Toddlers Cove, Tannery Field and Bingley Island past Whitehall Meadows as it follows the Great Stour, changes from being a formal planted garden to semi natural landscape full of wild and native plants. This is a varied habitat for wildlife.
From the studies that have taken place we know that Pipistrelle and Daubenton’s Bats; a wide range of birds such as Kestrels, Kingfishers and Woodpeckers; a selection of butterflies and moths, dragonflies and other invertebrates are present. Otters and water voles have been seen in the recent past.
A recent Environment Agency survey of the Stour at Toddlers Cove discovered 16 types of fish, among them were trout, barbel, European eels and elvers, chub, carp, pike and tench.
How can we help wildlife?
We want to create the range of habitats to support as range of wildlife that would be expected to be seen in this region, and to create a better habitat for what is already there. For that to happen we need to undertake a wider range of surveys of the habitats. We want to support the area’s biodiversity:
- It is good for people – there is a lot to learn and enjoy.
- It is good for communities – people can get involved in volunteering.
- It creates an individual character to make the area distinct.
- Good for wildlife – whether it is rare or common, familiar or protected, a home is created.
- The network of parks and green spaces in a town or city helps to ameliorate the effects of climatic extremes, heavy rainfall and pollutants. Naturalistic green spaces are generally more effective in this respect thanks to their more complex vegetational structure.
What do you think?
Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Friends of Westgate Parks, c/o Canterbury City Council, Community Development and Outdoor Leisure, Military Road, Canterbury, CT1 1YW.
Read more about preserving and improving the natural habitat of the area with the Kentish Stour Countryside Project