Page last updated at 05:51 GMT, Friday, 2 May 2008 06:51 UK

Work to boost sparrow population

Male house sparrow

Conditions are to be improved in parks, cemeteries and green spaces in central London to help boost the dwindling house sparrow population.

A range of experts have been consulted to help reverse the decline, which has resulted in a drop of at least 65% in London between 1994 and 2005.

Westminster council came up with the biodiversity action plan (BAP) in conjunction with 30 organisations.

Tawny owls, hedgehogs, butterflies and bats will also benefit from the scheme.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and London Zoo are among those currently working with the council to prevent the decline of species and habitats that are a conservation priority.

Under the action plan different organisations will take the lead on different projects, focusing on five priority species and seven priority habitats.

Priority species
Buttoned snout moths
House sparrows
Tawny owls

The priority habitats are the built environment; churchyards and cemeteries; parks and green spaces; private gardens; standing open water; tidal Thames; veteran trees and decaying wood.

Councillor Alan Bradley said: "The council is looking at the best practicable ways to improve conditions that will boost wildlife, engaging also with developers and commercial property owners in the principles of design for biodiversity".

According to experts, sparrow numbers in Kensington Gardens have fallen from 2,603 birds in the 1920s to seven in the latest count.

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