ARENA case study in Green Roof Shelters
The ARENA project has received funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.
Restoring nature to urban areas represents a mechanism for delivering environmental, social, and economic benefits. However, putting nature back into areas where nature has been marginalised throughout history represents a substantial challenge. ARENA has been supporting Green Roof Shelters in their work to restore nature into even the smallest and most high-density urban areas.
Green Roof Shelters are innovators when it comes to putting nature back into landscapes. Adopting an ecomimicry process (mimicking locally typical habitats), the Green Roof Shelters team turn ordinary everyday infrastructure, like bin covers, bicycle shelters, and freight containers, into nature-based solutions capable of supporting biodiversity.
With the advent of biodiversity net-gain in the planning process and increased awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity and adapting to climate change, there is an excellent opportunity to increase the rollout of Green Roof Shelter products and to develop new products. However, in order to do so, it is critical to understand the opportunities around:
- Designing for a broader range of biodiversity,
- New product opportunities;
- The performance of existing products in-situ
How ARENA was able to help
Ecologists from the Sustainable Research Institute involved in ARENA have been working with Green Roof Shelters to support these aspirations. We have been:
- Helping to feed ecological expertise into the design of new nature-based solution products;
- Providing input into how existing products could be developed and adapted to provide new habitats for wildlife that they are not currently designed for;
- Monitoring existing Green Roof Shelter products that have already been purchased and implemented to assess how they are performing in terms of supporting biodiversity when in place. This has included surveys of the wildflowers that have grown on the green roofs, a survey of the bugs that are making a home on the products, and surveys of the birds that are using the bird boxes that are part of the green roof shelter design.
So far, we have had very promising results from the surveys. These have included an abundance of different wildflowers on the roofs, and plenty of visitors to the flowers and nesting blocks installed around the bicycle shelters. We have even found blue tit chicks in some of the nest boxes, the perfectly coloured bird for a new home at the IKEA store in North Greenwich!
After the last round of surveys is completed, we will provide a final report for Green Roof Shelters. This will provide the company with valuable marketing information and a springboard from which to build further evidence of the value of their innovative nature-based solution products.
Co-funded by London ERDF, ARENA is three year business support programme led by the Sustainable Research Institute, at the University of East London, in partnership with Barking Riverside Ltd.
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