Building in Wildlife

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Monty Don presents Shared Planet, the series that looks at the crunch point between human population and the natural world. In this week's programme the focus is towns and cities, with a report from North America about their largest Swallow, the Purple Martin. Purple Martins are totally dependent on human habitation east of the Rockies for nest sites. West of the mountain range they largely nest in their ancestral way using abandoned woodpecker cavities. As we clear land to build the world's towns and cities what is the impact on the natural world and are there ideas to embrace wildlife in built environment planning?

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28 minutes

Last on

Mon 15 Jul 2013 21:00

Kate Henderson

Kate Henderson

Kate is Chief Executive of Britain's oldest charity concerned with planning, housing and the environment, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA). She is responsible for leading the Association’s efforts to shape and advocate planning policies that put social justice and the environment at the heart of the debate.

Kate joined the TCPA in early 2007 and was appointed Chief Executive in 2010. She has raised the TCPA’s profile through a range of campaigns and policy initiatives, including chairing the TCPA-led Garden Cities and Suburbs Expert Group and the Eco-Development Group.
Kate is a member of the Government’s 2016 Taskforce and Neighbourhood Planning Sounding Board, she has been on the Energy Institute London and Home Counties Committee since 2006 and she was recently currently a commissioner on the Independent Commission on the Future of Council Housing in Southwark.

Chris Baines

Chris Baines

Chris Baines is one of the UK’s leading independent environmentalists and an award winning writer and broadcaster.  His book “How to Make a Wildlife Garden has been continuously in print since 1985 and the Wild Side of Town won the first UK conservation book prize in 1987.
He is self-employed and works as an adviser to central and local government and to a number of corporate clients in the water, financial management and urban regeneration industries. He trained originally as a horticulturist and he has been a champion of wildlife gardening, urban ecology and cross-sectoral partnership working for more than 40 years.
Chris is a national Vice President of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and honorary President of both the Essex Wildlife Trust and the Thames Estuary Partnership.  In 2004 he was awarded the RSPB medal for his contribution to conservation and in 2013 he was presented with the Peter Scott Award by the British Naturalists Association.

Purple Martins

Purple Martins

The Purple Martin (Progne subis) is the largest of the North American Swallows; the males are a glossy blue-black whereas the females are browner in colour.  The species has become increasingly dependent on humans for their survival through nesting in man-made cavities, however despite human efforts, the species is declining in the North East of America which is thought to be due to lack of habitat and a reduction of insects.


The image (courtesy of Scott Kruitbosch) shows a male purple martin.

Learn about habitats with The Open University

Shared Planet

Explore the twists and connections of natural life in four different UK habitats.