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Science
COSTING THE EARTH
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Thursday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Friday 15:00
Costing the Earth tells stories which touch all our lives, looking at man's effect on the environment and at how the environment reacts. It questions accepted truths, challenges the people in charge and reports on progress towards improving the world we live in.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 31 May
PRESENTER
TOM HEAP
Tom Heap
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Thursday 31 May 2007
Green roof
Environmentalists meet the developers:
Steven Whitbread , Tom Heap, Dusty Gedge and Howard Dauber at Canary Wharf


Our Urban Countryside

The idea of urban wildlife is nothing new. Everyone knows foxes are a feature of the inner city, as are many other creatures large and small from badgers to bumble bees. Less widely known is that many species have taken refuge in cities like London, driven out of intensively farmed rural areas into floristically rich urban brownfield sites. London bees, for instance, produce some of Britain’s best honey, and peregrine falcons nest along the glass fronted urban cliffs of Canary Wharf. Their presence would seem to prove that nature can exist in a man-made environment,. So does that make some of the old conservation versus development arguments redundant?
It’s long been recognised that green spaces in towns and cities are beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing, and recent studies show that ‘greener cities’ are also more prosperous.
But with the need for thousands more houses in key areas of the UK, many of these green spaces, including gardens, are prime for development. The environmentalists say that will be bad for people and bad for wildlife. But instead of opposing big new developments like the Thames Gateway, they are trying to work with the planners to ensure provision is made for green grids or wildlife corridors. They say we need a more solid strategy to incorporate and protect biodiversity in the light of rapid housing growth and climate change.
The government’s advisory body English Partnerships say that the planning culture has been transformed over the last two decades and that developers now recognise the importance of nature in the urban environment. One example of where the developers have built in space for nature is in the heart of London’s Docklands where several of the major financial institutions at Canary Wharf boast green roofs that have become havens for wildlife. But if this richness of biodiversity has happened incidentally, how much of a plan do we really need to build spaces for wildlife into our future cities?
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