Parks plan to boost London's house sparrows

A A A

Conservationists have launched a scheme to turn parts of London's parks into meadows in an attempt to reverse the decline of the once-common house sparrow.

The sparrow population in the capital has plummeted by 68 per cent in the past 15 years, mirroring severe declines in numbers of the bird across the UK's cities.

Research has indicated that changes to urban areas including increases in traffic, paving over gardens, removing trees and developing green spaces have led to a lack of seeds and insects which has left sparrows struggling to survive.

Many chicks are dying in the nest of dehydration or starvation because there are not enough moisture-rich insects for them to eat.

In London, the sparrow is at risk of disappearing altogether, the RSPB warned.

But the conservation charity has teamed up with a number of partners across Greater London to run a three-year project to try and provide food-rich habitats for the birds.

The £170,000 scheme is being funded by the SITA Trust which manages funding raised through taxes on rubbish sent to landfill.

Tim Webb, spokesman for the RSPB, said the plan was to sow areas of more than 20 parks in the capital with wild grasses and flowers to provide seeds and attract insects.

Each site will be managed using three different planting schemes of grass seed, wildflower meadow and wildlife seed mix.

While the main aim of the scheme is to boost sparrow numbers, the project could also encourage butterflies and moths back to the capital and provide food for other birds and bats, he said.

He said he was concerned that some people might think the wild areas, which will be in green spaces including Green Park and Kensington Gardens, were not being managed properly.

But he said the patches of long grass were part of a scientific project which would benefit the environment in those areas.

And he said: "In Greater London sparrow numbers are down 68 per cent on what they were in 1994, and there are some parts of central London where you don't see them at all anymore.

"There has been a dramatic decline and the concern is that the population will reach a level where it is no longer sustainable and they will disappear completely."

The three-year scheme will run on sites owned by project partners Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, City of London, the Royal Parks Agency, Wandsworth Borough Council, Islington Council and Southwark Council.

The 20 confirmed parks and the organisations which are taking part in the scheme are:

Hampstead Heath (City of London)
Laycock Street (Islington)
Whittington Park (Islington)
Paradise Park (Islington)
Highbury Fields (Islington)
Burgess Park (Southwark)
Peckham Rye Park (Southwark)
Tooting Common (Wandsworth)
Tottenham Marshes (Lee Valley)
Waterworks (Lee Valley)
Leyton Marshes (Lee Valley)
Green Park (The Royal Parks)
Kensington Gardens (The Royal Parks)
Hyde Park (The Royal Parks)
Primrose Hill (The Royal Parks)
Perretts Field (Sutton)
Bedding Park (Sutton)
St Helier Open Space (Sutton)
Rose Hill Park East (Sutton)
Cheam Park (Sutton)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there