Date of publication

28 April 2017

Paperback ISBN-13

978 1 85341 154 0


100 pp, 90 line drawings


192 x 103 mm (paperback only)


110 grammes



A Guide to Habitat Creation
Chris Baines


New introduction. Grasslands: adapting existing grasslands; mowing regimes (flowery formal lawns, springtime wildflower meadows, summer meadows); introducing wildflowers to established grasslands (over-seeding, introduction by planting, introduction by turf); creating meadows by seed (first-year establishment). Woodlands: natural regeneration; creating woodland in existing grassland (scrub promotion, planting scrub species); planting into soil; revitalizing stands of existing mature trees; hedgerows; tree-seeding into open ground; diversifying woodland for wildlife; commercial woodlands. Wetlands: improving existing open waters; new wetlands; wetland management. Wastelands. Interpretation and Education (informing the public, habitat creation in schools). Appendices: specialist wildflower seed suppliers; insects associated with commoner British trees; plant species suitable for establishment in grassland, woodland, wetland and wasteland.


Back in the mid-1980s nature conservation was still overwhelmingly regarded as a rural issue, focused on protecting the surviving fragments of increasingly isolated existing habitat. For conservationists who were living and working in towns and cities, such preservation measures were rarely an option. Renovating damaged landscapes and creating new habitat from scratch made absolute sense in the heart of modern towns, cities and suburbs, but by the end of the twentieth century it was widely realized that if nature were to stand a serious chance of surviving, the lessons of the urban conservation movement would need to be rolled out right across the rural countryside.

Nature conservation in the new millennium is very different to the previous position in three particular ways. First, there has been a realization that whole landscapes need to be physically reunited or woven back together. Second was the perception that this more holistic approach would need to involve the widest possible range of landowners and landscapes. Rebuilding biodiversity in this way meant that nature conservation could no longer be the exclusive domain of wildlife specialists. The third essential change in the new millennium has been the recognition that wildlife habitats are our natural life-support systems. Urban greenspace is again seen as a vital ingredient in the healthy towns and cities of the future, and access to nature, for its calming influence on people and the ways in which it can improve human health and wellbeing, is at last being recognized in medical circles.

Green infrastructure has become a fundamentally important part of urban planning and a sustainably managed landscape that works with nature is acknowledged to be of great value for the economy as well as for the benefits it can bring for people and for wildlife. When major infrastructure projects are proposed, from high-speed rail links to in-shore barrages and wind farms, it has become second nature to include proposals for improvement to accompanying wildlife habitats. This is quite a revolution in little more than a generation, and some compensation for the massive scale of habitat destruction that accompanied the post-war building boom and the agrochemical revolution in the latter part of the last century.


Anyone can use this handy pocket guide to the creation or restoration of all types of habitat: wildlife gardener, woodsman, farmer or land manager, park-keeper or groundsman, school teacher, parish councillor or local authority planner.



Chris Baines

Chris Baines has been a champion of habitat creation and nature conservation for more than 40 years. He created the very first wildlife garden at the Chelsea Flower Show as long ago as 1985, and his book The Wild Side of Town won the UK conservation book prize in 1987.

Chris trained as a horticulturist and landscape architect. After an early career in public parks and the landscape contracting industry, he taught landscape design and management to postgraduate students and also presented a variety of environmental programmes for TV and radio throughout the 1980s. Since then he has worked as an independent adviser to central and local government and to corporate clients in the utility, mineral and development industries. Chris is a long-standing national Vice-President of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and has been awarded medals of honour by both the RSPB and the British Naturalists Association for his contribution to conservation.

This Guide to Habitat Creation was first written in 1983 at the request of the Greater London Council and, since then, both amateurs and professionals in many parts of the world appear to have found it very helpful as an aid to landscape improvement and creative conservation.



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