As spring approaches, Monmouthshire’s grounds maintenance service will work to support the environment and provide a boost for wildlife by modifying mowing practices. Teams will mark open spaces with blue or white topped stakes to highlight areas likely to be suitable habitats which have been identified by council staff, residents or through the council’s partnerships with local groups. These include Bee Friendly Monmouthshire, Bees for Development and Gwent Wildlife Trust as part of the Nature Isn’t Neat project funded by the Vale of Usk Rural Development Plan for Wales
The work supports the National Pollinator Strategy and the council’s long-term objectives to improve the health of Monmouthshire’s natural environment, and includes a reduction in mowing frequency and an increase in mowing height. This approach will allow plants in grassland greater opportunity to flower, providing more food for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. The longer grass also provides homes for many other exciting forms of wildlife. In addition to these benefits, less frequent mowing allows grasses and associated plants to put down deeper roots making them more resilient to drought. Through deeper roots, grass also helps to open up the soil, allowing better absorption of water to reduce localised flooding. Longer grass also slows water run-off on slopes.
Areas identified will be mown in the autumn with grass clippings removed to reduce soil fertility, consequently enabling more indigenous wild flowers to flourish.
Monmouthshire’s residents can expect to see this approach adopted in a range of locations around the county, particularly around the edges of open spaces and around trees – edges are often the least disturbed and most bio-diverse. Trees can also benefit from changes below ground in the soil, improving conditions for their roots.
Councillor Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for landscapes and bio-diversity said: “Our new approach to mowing will create new habitats for pollinating insects and help increase their numbers throughout the county, while adding to the area’s natural beauty and promoting a wider range of flora and fauna. Such practices are key to ensuring our long-term sustainability.”
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