green-roof-sharrow-school-uk.jpgA green roof at a UK primary school in Sheffield is the first to be designated as a nature reserve after a rare bird took up residence there.

A network of green roofs on new and regenerated buildings in the Yorkshire city has lured back a protected bird – the black redstart, which has also become a high-profile indicator of green roof success in London.

The citywide program of “green roof safaris” showcase the merits of topping buildings with grass, tenacious plants and even groves of birch trees and a pond.

The Sharrow school’s green roof design provided value through its control of stormwater, noise, heat and pollution. A happy by-product was its value to local wildlife. 

According to Nigel Dunnett, Director of The Green Roof Centre and the designer, the key goal was “to create plantings with dramatic visual impact for much of the year, high biodiversity value, and minimal resource and maintenance requirements.”

Almost 700 plants were planted by volunteers from within the community using a wildflower seed mix. Plants used included directly sown annuals for high visual impact, including cornflowers and snap dragons. (See more photos of the roof at the Sharrow School Website.)

“This can be nirvana for a black redstart, according to the Sheffield Wildlife Trust, especially if plant varieties thrive and encourage insect diversity for the birds to feed on. Initial monitoring by the trust has found six bee species regularly visiting the roofs and identified a target list of 49 local moths, two hoverflies and the violet oli-beetle which sometimes hitches a lift with bumblebees and could colonise high-level green roofs – and add variety to black redstarts’ diet – as a result.”

(READ MORE from the Guardian)

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