Making towns and cities work for wildlife

Illustration showing measures to help wildlife in towns and citiesHow to build a Living Landscape in towns and cities

Urban green spaces and recreation grounds are often managed intensively, with grass cut short very regularly. More natural green spaces, as well as wildlife-rich margins and corridors, can help to build a Living Landscape.

Public green spaces

Parks and other green spaces can be great for wildlife if they incorporate wildflower-rich areas. Local authorities should try to make margins at least three metres wide with larger areas at least 20-30 metres wide in places. Hedges provide food and shelter, and should ideally be up to two metres high, one or two metres thick and with mature trees incorporated every ten metres. Ponds with a diameter greater than 10 metres are ideal - they can be any shape; shallow, sloping sides will help wildlife to get in and out.


Nectar-rich plants on allotments will attract useful insects to the plot. Schemes that bring nature back into urban areas, such as creating a wildflower-rich meadow in a shared green space, or digging a pond, can bring residents together.

Street trees

Trees contribute to a healthier environment by producing oxygen and locking away carbon during their normal life cycle. They can act as a buffer to reduce noise pollution and in their immediate vicnity can help to reduce airborne pollution by attracting particles on their leaves. A mixture of native trees is preferable. These should be suitable to the soil type and of local provenance.

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS)

A sustainable system of drainage that can mitigate the effects of urban stormwater run-off on the environment. Ideally these systems should be as naturalised as possible, with thick vegetative margins. From October 2012 any new construction work in Hertfordshire with drainage requirements will need the drainage system approved by the local SUDS approval body.

For a full list of practical ideas to help wildlife in our towns, download our guide How to build a Living Landscape.