Monmouthshire County Council has been awarded National Heritage Lottery Fund backing which will enable it to buy machinery, supporting wildlife to flourish in its parks and green spaces.  The project, entitled “Nature Isn’t Neat”, builds on the experience gathered in a similar initiative piloted and supported by environmental groups in Monmouth.

Evidence demonstrates the catastrophic global decline in insects needed to pollinate plants, trees and crops, and public green spaces play an important role in providing pollinators with sources of food as well as nesting and hibernation sites..  Monmouthshire’s green spaces and parks are mown up to 16 times a year but the Nature Isn’t Neat project will involve reduced cutting of some park areas and green spaces to allow flowers to bloom and grass to grow longer, providing homes for insects and small mammals.

The new machines will enable the council to cut grass when it is longer and remove cuttings, which enrich the soil and smother flowering plants if left on the ground.  Mowing of the edges of paths and pavements will continue with paths cut through new patches of meadow, providing access for children to play and to encourage exploration and enjoyment of the flowers.

Research suggests that creating environments supporting a wider range of wildlife benefits people’s health and mental wellbeing while encouraging them to slow down and enjoy watching flowers, insects and other wildlife.  Using this approach, the council aims to improve prospects for wildlife, providing crucial stepping stones for species to move between good habitat areas.  It will also contribute towards making the county a more attractive place to live and work.

While any benefits of these changes in management may not be immediately apparent, the council is keen to hear people’s thoughts about changes, and any effect they have on ways they use local green spaces.  A survey – www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/nin/ – aims to discover what adults and young people think.

The county council is also keen to hear from people living near the sites targeted by this scheme, who might be interested in visiting for 15 minutes each month to monitor flowers and pollinating insects.  No special knowledge is needed as access to training materials and an instruction video will be provided.  The sites are Belgrave Park, Bailey Park and Mardy Park Resource Centre in Abergavenny; Caerwent’s Merton Green greenspaces; Orchid Drive greenspace in Caldicot; Dancing Hill greenspace in Undy; Rogiet’s Station Rd greenspace; Tudor Rd greenspace in Wyesham, Monmouth; and Hardwick recreation area in Chepstow.  For details of how to participate, contact Monmouthshire’s Green Infrastructure and Litter Education and Awareness Officer:susanparkinson@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Monmouthshire County Council’s Biodiversity Champion, Councillor Richard John said: “Nature Isn’t Neat is an important project building on work we’ve carried out for a number of years to support pollinators.  Many people have enjoyed the pollinator flowerbeds that were a riot of colour in the summer and now we’d like to support more of our native flowering plants by changing the management of green spaces on many people’s doorsteps.  We would like to encourage as many people as possible to fill in the survey form to let us know what they think about these changes.  We are here to listen.”

·         The Nature Isn’t Neat project is funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and Welsh Government and is delivered by Monmouthshire County Council’s Countryside Service and Neighbourhood Services Department and the Monmouthshire and Newport Local Nature Partnership.