Wildlife is finding a much-needed haven in churchyards across the county, as revealed by the results of this year’s Living Churchyard Competition. Dorset Wildlife Trust judges, who visited 25 churchyards over the summer, were impressed by the many ways that people are making wildlife welcome in both town and country, more vital than ever now with threats from development and climate change.
Sharron Abbott, Living Churchyard Project Co-Ordinator at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “We were immensely impressed by the work of the dedicated bands of people managing their churchyards for wildlife as well as for the local community and visitors. All our judges were bowled over, not only by the fantastic drifts of wildflowers and other wildlife-friendly features, but also by the enthusiasm of the groups to improve their efforts year on year.”
Vital links in the 'Living Landscape'
Living Churchyards, sponsored by the Diocese of Salisbury, encourages local communities to manage their churchyards for the benefit of wildlife as well as the local congregation, visitors and the bereaved. Ways in which churchyards can be enhanced for wildlife include developing small areas of mown grass into mini-wildflower meadows, replacing exotic shrubs and hedges with native species and planting nectar-rich flowers to encourage butterflies and other insects.
Sharron added: “I hope that other parishes will read about the competition and decide to join the scheme. We have lots of information about how you can help wildlife in your churchyard and our judges are happy to give advice. These sites really are vital links in the ‘Living Landscape’, along with other community sites, such as wildlife-rich road verges, community ponds and orchards and wildlife-friendly gardens, which together help to provide corridors through which wildlife can move between the larger protected wildlife havens such as nature reserves. Congratulations to the winners, and heartfelt thanks to all who entered for their tremendous efforts, which make a real difference to their local wildlife.”
This year’s winners:
Bishop’s Prize (overall winner): St James, Milton Abbas
Best newcomer: St Peter, Portesham
Best urban churchyard: St John the Baptist, Moordown, Bournemouth
Best managed: St. Mary, Beaminster
Churches interested in finding out more about the scheme can ring 01305 264620
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sharron Abbott at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
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Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
Best Urban: Saint John The Baptist, Moordown
Best Newcomer: St Peter, Portesham
Best Managed: St Mary, Beaminster
Bishop's Prize (overall winner): St James, Milton Abbas