Trees around your office provide a “green dot” of food, shelter and nesting sites for native birds. Scrubby plants in your parking lot or a retaining wall could already be home to native lizards and insects.
These micro-biodiversity sites create homes and food for lizards, insects and birds. They contribute to healthy urban forest and the benefits that it provides for people and the environment.
The benefits of urban forest
Urban forest is made up of all the trees and vegetation in an urban area, both native and introduced. It includes private gardens, street trees and plants growing along waterways. It includes natural stormwater devices such as swales, green roofs and living walls. Urban forest is critical urban infrastructure. It is as important to how a city functions as buildings, roads and public transport.
Healthy, extensive urban forests provide many benefits:
- They improve health and wellbeing, provide shade and reduce the urban heat island affect
- They enhance biodiversity by providing habitat, food, shelter and nesting sites for native birds, lizards and insects
- They improve air and water quality and sequester carbon
- They increase property values, reduce flood risk, reduce energy costs and reduce healthcare costs
- They support education and local food growing, and they sustain and enhance mauri
Where to start
Walk around your site and assess what is currently there. Where could you create a nature refuge or enhance an existing one? Consider existing landscaped areas that need a refresh, berms or stormwater drains.
There are a variety of ways you can create a nature refuge to suit your site. Plant native trees with nectar or berries for native birds. If space is limited, plant shrubby, dense bushes and flaxes for native skinks. Rocks and retaining walls provide lizards and insects with protection from rats. Your office building could even provide birds with nesting sites or house a beehive to support pollinators.
Support threatened and endangered plants. Your plant selection can help add to the diversity of urban trees and/or contribute to the stock of rarer New Zealand native plants.
Green up any plans for new offices or retrofits. Consider green roofs or walls in your new office building design or retrofit. They capture carbon and help mitigate the heat island affect in urban areas.