21 nest boxes for endangered swifts are to be installed on social housing as a result of a partnership between Dacorum Borough Council and Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
The nest boxes are being installed by construction company Osborne as part of the council’s social housing renovation plan. Dacorum Borough Council are working with the Trust to create and improve habitats for wildlife across the borough.
Tim Hill, Conservation Manager at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, said: ‘These iconic birds have been suffering great declines and it’s great to see what partnerships such as this one can achieve. We are optimistic that Hemel Hempstead’s swifts will benefit greatly from these nest boxes and are looking forward to working together even closer in the future.’
Annie Smith, the Dacorum District Lead for the Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020, said: ‘Hertfordshire Year of Culture is delighted to support this project, which demonstrates the cross-sector partnership working that Dacorum Borough Council is involved in to help make projects such as this happen.’
The project is also endorsed by Councillor Alan Anderson: ‘I am supporting this project as it demonstrates the council’s commitment to increasing biodiversity. I am grateful that the council, our Housing maintenance partner Osbornes and the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust have found an effective, practical way of doing this, as it is so important that we do what we can to help struggling wildlife species.’
Swifts are a summer migrant to Britain, arriving in May then spending just three months with us breeding before heading back to Africa in August. They have seen a drastic decline in populations – decreasing by 53% between 1995 and 2016 – which is mainly due to a loss of suitable nesting places. In the past, many buildings had open eaves, loose tiles and holes in roofs, all of which provided both nesting and roosting habitats for bats and birds. Modern renovations are resulting in many former nesting holes being sealed up and thereby leaving the swifts excluded, without a place to nest, resulting in devastating negative effects on their populations.
The Trust is working with councils, community groups and residents across Hertfordshire to improve and create habitats for swifts. In Hemel Hempstead, all tenants were very positive towards the installation and were delighted to be playing their part in providing homes for these threatened birds.
Find out how you can help swifts in your home at hertswildlifetrust.org.uk/actionforswifts.