Nature areas, allotments, parks and schools

Nature Areas

Nature areas can be found in many schools, parks gardens and other open spaces.  They are usually relatively small areas which have been created to attract wildlife to the area, often for education purposes.  They can have a wide range of wildlife features but some of the commoner ones are:

  • ponds
  • Mini-beast areas (dead logs, rock piles etc)
  • Raised beds for planting
  • Meadows
  • hedges
  • bird boxes and bird feeders

They also usually have seating, pond dipping areas, information boards and other features to make them more user friendly.  They can even have high tech features such as live nest box web cameras.

Over the years CEL have helped to design, build and manage many nature areas and gardens.  We are able to provide an entire package from design to final build.  Often some of the work is carried out by volunteers and we are able to assist with this or possibly just do the heavy work which requires machinery, leaving the light planting etc to the volunteers.  In schools we often work with the pupils to do hedge planting or create meadows with wild flower seeds.


Allotments can be an oasis for wildlife in cities.  Many birds, insects, amphibians and even relatively rare species like slow worms and grassnakes can all be found in and around allotments.  Encouraging wildlife to allotments can be of great benefit to the allotment holders too.  Many species such as lacewings, ladybirds, toads, newts, hedgehogs and many others eat other species which are pests.  Other are important pollinators of many vegetable and fruit plants (e.g. bees).

Allotment holders can help to encourage wildlife in many ways. Click here for some suggestions.

CEL are able to assist with ecological surveys, management advice and practical improvements. Some contracts on allotments have included reptile surveys of allotments in Bexley, management plans for 4 allotments sites in Haringey, installation of footpaths and raised planting beds in  Grove Park Allotments in Dulwich and clearance of rubbish in Longton Allotments in Sydenham.


Parks and open spaces can be very important for many species, especially in towns and cities.  However many parks are managed in ways which attract very few species, but this does not need to be the case.  Even formal parks, sports ground and gardens can support many species with relatively few changes to the management.  Nature areas can be created if spaces allows and this has been done in many parks.  If the uses of the park means there is less space or if the character of the park is unsuitable for a nature area (e.g. historic formal gardens and squares) it is still possible to do a number of things to attract wildlife including: 

  • Planting native hedges
  • Introducing native species of trees and shrubs
  • Planting berry bearing plants to provide food for birds
  • Planting species which have high nectar for butterflies and other insects
  • Installing bird and bat boxes 

Alan Scott (the CEL Director and Senior Ecologist) has a great many years of experience of enhancing parks and open spaces for wildlife.  He can carry out surveys and provide advice for specific parks or help to produce guidance for policies and strategies to improve wildlife conservation in open spaces.  

Past CEL contracts have included: 

  • Ecological surveys and enhancements for city squares for the City of Westminster Council (inc Berkley, Soho, Ebury, Norfolk and Porchester Squares)
  • Wildlife Survey and Management Improvement Plan for Paddington Recreation Ground
  • Phase 1 habitat surveys and wildlife management recommendations for 13 social housing      estates in London and Bradford
  • Wildlife management recommendations for St Margret’s Estate Gardens in Richmond 

We are also able to help with practical habitat enhancement such as tree planting, hedge planting, installation of bird boxes, etc.  This work can often be carried out with volunteers or local school children which is a great way to involve the local community.


School wildlife gardens can increase the biodiversity of school grounds, particularly in urban areas, and provide a safe and attractive place to learn about wildlife.  They can be used for informal activities or to teach the curriculum and provide children with experience of the natural world through study and practical care of the garden.

CEL have worked on creating and managing wildlife areas in many schools throughout London.  We can help with planning, building and managing the garden and give advice on sources of information and materials for studying their habitats and species.