Wildlife havens are set to increase in Dorset’s churchyards, thanks to Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Living Churchyards Scheme. At its Autumn Workshop, hosted in Milton Abbas by St James Wildlife Conservation Group, representatives of parishes across the county learnt how to make their churchyard wildlife-friendly.
Easier than expected
Dr Sharron Abbott, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Living Churchyard Co-ordinator, said: “Making space for wildlife in your churchyard is not as hard as people think. This workshop was a chance to learn how to get started in a small way and that wildlife friendly doesn’t have to mean untidy. It was wonderful to see that five of the parishes had not been in the Living Churchyard Scheme before. This is fantastic news for wildlife as it means new safe havens springing up across the 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 congregation, visitors and the bereaved. Held in Milton Abbas, winner of this year’s Living Churchyard Competition, the Workshop was an opportunity for the 30 delegates to see how St James’ churchyard is managed. Denis Lynch, Chairman of St James Wildlife Conservation Group, gave tips including sowing wild flowers on unattended graves, especially those with kerbs that offer protection from strimming.
A variety of options
Dorset Wildlife Trust expert, Jim White, gave advice on managing grassland: “People think that they might have to stop cutting their churchyard grass all summer, but there’s no need. Most grassland herbs, such as bird’s foot trefoil, self heal and red clover, are long-lived perennials so they don’t have to set seed every year to flourish, and they can survive well in short turf. Mowed areas are also good for wildlife, so you can have some cut areas, some where you stop cutting for about a month to enjoy the flowers and the insects that come for nectar, and a small area of long grass, cut just once or twice in the year, perhaps in a corner or around a tree.”
Churches that would like to find out more about joining the Living Churchyard Scheme can ring 01305 264620. Dorset Wildlife Trust has information about wildlife-friendly churchyard management and all churches in the scheme benefit from visits by wildlife experts to help them plan the care of their church grounds.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sharron Abbott at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
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.
Anita and Denis Lynch (on left), from St James Wildlife Conservation Group, hosted the Dorset Wildlife Trust Living Churchyard workshop in Milton Abbas
Photo courtesy of Peter Chafer
St James, Milton Abbas, was the top wildlife churchyard in 2011
Photo courtesy of Dorset Wildlife Trust
Small long grass area around a tree
Photo courtesy of Nicky Hoar