As spring approaches, Monmouthshire’s grounds maintenance service will work to support the environment and provide a boost for wildlife by modifying mowing practices. It follows the council’s commitment to promoting biodiversity and encouraging nature to thrive through the ‘Nature Isn’t Neat’ principles.

This approach to managing open spaces, including trees and grassland, has been developed in response to the alarming decline in biodiversity and the challenges of climate change. The principles also aim to create environments for bees, butterflies and birds to prosper allowing them to do their work in making the natural surroundings better for future generations.

The principles include a reduction in mowing and trimming in certain green spaces and recreational areas. More importantly, it means the council is committed to mowing with a purpose and not mowing areas such as beneath tree canopies until later in the year – allowing meadow areas to grow. Thanks to funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the council’s grounds maintenance teams will also be sowing wild flower seed in some of the meadow areas to increase biodiversity. In larger areas where meadow patches develop, meandering paths will be created to encourage play and exploration. The mowing of sports pitches and the most heavily used open spaces for recreation will be unaffected.

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 in the soil, improving conditions for their roots.

Monmouthshire’s ‘Nature Isn’t Neat’ approach has been praised in recent years with the BBC’s Countryfile programme showcasing Monmouthshire County Council as an examples of biodiversity-friendly projects across the UK. Naturalist, Iolo Williams, gave his support to Monmouthshire’s reduced mowing policy and the positive effect it was already having on biodiversity.

Monmouthshire County Council’s Biodiversity Champion, Councillor Richard John said: “Our Nature Isn’t Neat approach to mowing allows us to 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. We are encouraging residents to embrace this and maybe adopt some of the principles at home too.”

The council has launched a short questionnaire to capture residents’ thoughts on the ‘Nature Isn’t Neat’ approach to managing open spaces. The questionnaire and more information about the principles are available at https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/nin/