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It’s official: a robin is ‘a bird’. And an ‘apple tree’ is ‘a tree’. Hackney council’s shock revelation

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Regents Canal from Kingsland bridge Haggerston spring 2011 © ∂å

BIODIVERSITY is a splendid word of fine lineage that means, roughly, animals, trees and plants in their natural environment, and Hackney council has made huge progress in tending to the concept.

Where council workers once aimed to trim every blade of public grass to no more than a few centimetres, they now allocate areas in which different species of low plans can grow apparently wildly. At least, they are supposed to do so; old gardening habits die hard.

The council’s biodiversity team, one of the outfits that has led such changes, has just completed consulting the public on its draft biodiversity action plan and will soon be studying the results.  Once the press office has checked over them, the public may even be told how what it thought of the plan.

Caroline Allen © Hackney Green Party

Caroline Allen and, top, the Regents Canal

Hackney Green Party has already got stuck in, although being the well-mannered people that they are, the criticism is mild.

Caroline Allen, Hackney Green Party candidate for the London Assembly, congratulated the authors of the report, but was sceptical whether the council would “deliver” its recommendations. The call to ensure that green space was provided for within new developments was important but, she told Loving Dalston:  “This is also an area in which the council has a bad record… we have many new developments with very poor ecological standards. We must see an immediate improvement in this area.

“Recent developments along the [Regents] canal are of particular concern… the presence of green corridors along the canal and the effects of large blocks overhanging and blocking the sun do not seem to have been considered.”

The Greens were also worried that co-operating with neighbouring boroughs and organisations in those boroughs was not mentioned. Wildlife did not stop at borough boundaries.

Loving Dalston liked the tenor of the report but was dismayed by the tone of the online consultation. Are explanations that a robin is “a bird”, as is a house sparrow necessary? And to be told that an apple tree is indeed “a tree” is verging on the rude.

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