Why Are People Putting Nets Over Trees?
Jun 10 2019
Despite the arrival of spring, many parts of England are not as alive with the sound of birdsong as they might normally be at this time of year. That’s because property developers all over the country have taken to covering trees, bushes and hedgerows with unsightly netting aimed at discouraging bird populations from making their homes in sites earmarked for construction.
The measure is not illegal as it exploits a loophole in the law. At present, it is a criminal offence to destroy or remove the active nest of a bird, but it is not illegal to implement steps aimed at stopping birds from creating the nests in the first place. The practice has provoked widespread anger and criticism from all across the environmental community.
Laying the groundwork
The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has indicated that the practice has been in use for some time now, though it does not have any statistics to hand to demonstrate whether it has increased in recent years. It is often in place in an area where a housing development is scheduled to take place, laying the groundwork for the labour to come and removing any potential legal obstacles with regard to environmental protection.
To date, the netting has appeared in locations up and down the length and breadth of Britain. From Guildford to Gloucester and Stratford-upon-Avon to Darlington, netting of all different colours has been spotted by concerned locals and enraged environmentalists, many of whom have made a stand against the phenomenon.
Not only does the netting deprive birds of a temporary home while it is in place, it jeopardises the long-term viability of their habitats by facilitating the removal of trees, hedgerows and other places where they like to make nests. At a time when we are just beginning to develop further our knowledge of the physiology of birds and mammals, measures like these are accused of endangering these poor animals in the pursuit of profit.
One outspoken critic of the nets has been TV presenter Chris Packham, who described it as the “antithesis of everything conservation stands for”. Other high-profile campaigners include broadcaster Jake Humphreys and novelist Phillip Pullman, while an online petition to outlaw the practice was started earlier this year. At present, it has over 350,000 signatures.
The government to act
All petitions which receive more than 100,000 signatories must be debated in Parliament, and the topic was put under review on the 13th May. The outcome of their discussion was that the netting should be stopped or, at the very least, regulated to avoid evicting birds from their homes and jeopardising the longevity of their species as a whole.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has previously indicated that bird populations in the UK are in concerning decline. Between 1970 and the present day, more than 40 million birds have been lost from our shores. Meanwhile, a recent report published in the United States demonstrates that we are losing forested areas at a faster rate than ever before.
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