Bristol Swift Project Seminar

The subject was Enhancing the built environment for wildlife around Bristol  to provide a wider understanding of the environmental and social well-being benefits of making provision for nature within new and restored buildings.

Kerry McCarthy Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Bristol East MP and wildlife enthusiast spoke about her role as RSPB ‘Swift Champion’  in the conservation of swifts.

Bevis Watts, CEO of Avon Wildlife Trust hosted the seminar and explained why it was being held. He also chaired an interesting  panel question and answer session, which included discussions on ways to remove obstacles for development professionals to help them become pro-active in urban wildlife conservation.

Edward Mayer from Swift Conservation gave an informative and entertaining talk on swifts and some of the successful swift conservation projects from around the world. Click on 10% to Save the Swift to view slides.

Mike Oxford is Chair of British Standard Institute panel on Bio-Diversity in Buildings, a member CIEEM and Project Office of Local Government Ecologists spoke about ecology and planning considerations and gave examples of best practice within the building industry and suggestions of ways of collaborating in order to find solutions. Click on Light at the wrong end of the Tunnel to view edited slides.

Marcus Grant is Director of SHINE (Supporting Healthy Inclusive Neighbourhood Environments) and Expert Advisor to European World Health Organisation Healthy City Network. His fascinating talk was about urban conservation and its importance to the health and well being of local residents.Click on As Swifts so as to Humans : All health is rooted in nature to view edited slides.

There was a presentation on behalf of Claire Hector of Arc Consultants about Spectrum Housing Association, showing the developers perspective in successfully incorporating wildlife habitats within buildings. Click on  A Developer’s Perspective to view the slides.

Jan Stannard, founder of Maidenhead, Marlow and Cookham Swift Group and board director of Siteset Digital has extensive experience in PR. She gave examples of her experiences with Whitbread/Premier Inn and McCarthy & Stone in incorporating swift nest boxes and highlighted how for a small cost of swift boxes it created good PR for those businesses. Click on Helping swifts and building reputations to view slides.

This followed a break and a panel discussion session with many interesting questions.

Paul Buckley from RSPB gave a brief summary to end the seminar. Among the points he picked up on were:

· That there was consensus that making provision for swifts and urban biodiversity, that done carefully it was a win win for nature, developers and residents, and that difficulties could be overcome. For example Edward showed us that insulation could cause problems for swifts but that solutions could be easily found which provided both of these vital services

· The human benefits of making space for nature within urban areas was ever more evidenced. A proactive plan for engaging existing and future residents from an early stage was essential and effective

· We heard some good ideas from Mike Oxford about provision for urban nature within Building Regulations and British Standards. Let’s all influence this where we can.

He ended by thanking the attendees, speakers and co-organisers and especially Kerry McCarthy for fitting us into her busy schedule and Bristol Zoo for providing the excellent facilities for free. He exhorted delegates to all go away and think of one thing they could do to progress the meeting’s hoped for outcomes. The Bristol Swift Project has one more year to run and so there will be more opportunities to get involved.

Mark and Jane Glanville from Bristol Swifts displayed a map of the results of the Bristol Swift Survey and answered many questions about putting up swift boxes.