Deep in the heart of Soho, the rare Black redstart (Pboenicurus ochruros) has been living it up with it's young on a roof near Brewer Street.
The green roof consists of a sedum blanket with 60mm substrate in line with the green roof code. The designers, the greenroofconsultancy, also specified a number of wildflower plugs and other features such as logs to ensure that the roof was a diverse environment for both rare invertebrates and birds.
The black redstarts nested nearby and brought their young to feed on the roof once they had fledged. This only the third time a black redstart family has been recorded on green roofs in London. The other records have been in the Canary Wharf.
Considering much of the early work on installing green roofs in London was driven by the creation of habitat for this species, this is excellent news.
The green roof was installed by Landmark Living roofs using a Flag/soprema/Optigreen green roof system. A further 600mm is currently being installed on another roof of the building as part of the Drain London. This will increase the area of habitat for the birds by six and we estimate that the roofs will increase the amount of greenspace in the Soho area by 10%, which is good for the general health and well being of such a densely urbanised area of London.
This supports the use of the living roof approach to creating habitat for biodiversity across the flat open spaces that dominate London's roofscape. Whilst biodiversity has been an important driver the use of green roofs for helping London adapt to climate change and to reduce the negative impacts of bare grey roofs is now mainstream. The benefits of such an ecosystem approach will benefit the whole city and, whilst addressing stormwater, urban heat island effect and air pollution, the increase in wild green space will make a very significant contribution to wildlife in the capital.