The Birds and the Bees - Why Wildlife Needs Nightlife

Vincent Lang
Research Manager

Towns and cities worldwide are updating their lighting systems to save energy, make streets attractive after dark and improve urban living. Planners are increasingly doing so because of light pollution, too: France has strict new laws on outdoor lighting regulating levels, while regions across Europe have local policies to follow. We recently discussed how the ski resort of La Mongie’s drastically reduced light pollution, resulting in clear, starlit skies for tourists and the local observatory alike. But sensitive lighting for nocturnal corridors also helps preserve biodiversity. 

For decades, Schréder has worked on nature-centric, fauna-friendly lighting solutions. The UN forecasts that 68% of us will live in towns and cities by 2050, meaning an additional 460,000 square miles of our planet will be urbanised. We need to share that space with forests, wildlife and insects. Harsh, bright lighting turns night into day, disturbing circadian rhythms for animals and people alike. So, increasingly, cities want lighting solutions that ensures safety for people but also lets wildlife survive and thrive. 

We believe the answer lies in responsible project design. Used wisely, today’s technology makes it possible to minimise light pollution, while still providing ample illumination. Dimmers and sensors mean the level of artificial light can be closely controlled, which reduces the disruption to wildlife. Positioning has an impact too - by spacing light sources close together and dimming them to a lower lux level, we can significantly reduce the impact on the immediate environment. And light temperature makes a huge difference, too. We’ve combined all of these approaches into two systems: Pure Night and FlexiWhite.

Pure Night, Cool Feelings

Heidelberg, Germany, is home to one of the world’s leading universities. The city redeveloped the Bahnstadt district as part of its ongoing growth. Schréder worked hand-in-hand with the local authorities on lighting systems including a 3.5km bike path, which has infra-red sensors linked to 100 adjustable PIANO LED luminaires.

Sensors on Piano luminaires ensure a safe nocturnal environment for all on this bike path in Heidelberg

The sensors mean the lights remain dimmed when cyclists are not using the path, ensuring a dark night-time environment for wildlife. Then, as a bike approaches, the lighting increases in intensity. It feels really cool, like a spotlight following a celebrity. And the energy savings also give the earth a nice cool feeling.
The new systems are all part of Heidelberg’s plan to become climate neutral by 2050.

Our Pure Night intelligent lighting solution is perfect for ecological zones that are home to lizards and butterflies which need protection from artificial light. 

FlexiWhite, Animal Magic

Colour temperature is vital when it comes to protecting nature. Research suggests that the light pollution produced by blue-rich and bright white bulbs can be three times more disruptive to wildlife than softer yellow or amber light. So FlexiWhite switches automatically from amber lighting to white light on sensor detection, in order to protect fauna and flora while ensuring human safety and comfort.

Schréder lighting solution in Lille adapts at night to ensure safety for people while protecting local wildlife

In Lille’s Parc de la Citadelle, a nocturnal corridor has been created to preserve biodiversity. This Northern French city is always looking for innovative ways to manage its largest green space: in summer, it’s not unusual to see sheep or goats taking on the role of lawnmowers. Within the park, the city’s zoo is home to 100 different species of animals including monkeys, zebras, panthers and rare birds - and they all need lighting that respects their natural rhythms. 

In order to keep the park’s animals and plants healthy and happy, each luminaire in the corridor has three LED modules with different colour temperatures: amber, 2,200K and 2,700K. They also have motion detection sensors to distinguish the arrival of pedestrians, cyclists and cars. The brightness of the lighting follows the pattern of the seasons, protecting fauna and flora. 

Locals who commute early in the morning and late in the evening benefit from optimum visibility. However, after 10pm the lighting switched from white to amber, enabling the animals to sleep soundly. Sensor technology means that if a car or cyclist arrives, sensors detect their presence and the white LEDs temporarily spring into action.

Targeted Light, Happy Bats

Our amber lighting solutions are also ideal in bat conservation zones, where light spill can be particularly damaging. Here, choosing the optimal photometrical distribution can also help protect these vulnerable creatures.

Schréder a bat friendly lighting solution for Town Quay Bridge in Devon which is in a bat conservation zone

In Southern England, the 90m long steel cable-stay Town Quay Bridge links Newton Abbot and Kingsteignton,across the River Teign as part of an initiative by Devon County Council to create a cycle network. The towns also have a healthy population of bats, who feed around the river.
Devon County Council consulted an ecologist, and based on their input, we designed a solution together that stopped any light spilling onto the river. Placing the LEDs in the handrail means the light stays on the bridge.
On top of that, the LED handrails are controlled by a pre-programmed photoelectric cell so that the units only operate from dusk to midnight and then from 6:30am to daylight.

In today’s increasingly urbanised world, it’s essential that we preserve our wildlife while providing safe spaces for people to live. Thankfully, with Schréder’s smart solutions and expertise, it is possible to get the balance just right. 

About the writer

Vincent joined Schréder in 1997 and brings over 22 years’ experience in photometry. He was instrumental in successfully developing the LensoFlex® LED light engines for our street and road lighting luminaires. His insights and ideas have helped to pioneer new lighting technologies to ensure successful market launches for all our product ranges.

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