County Council cuts back on grass cutting this month to help wildlife

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Daisies on grass verge

Hampshire County Council has been cutting back on grass cutting this month to help wildlife.

The council said it is supporting the national campaign ‘No Mow May’ to encourage garden owners to put their mowers away, help growing wildflowers bloom, and provide habitat and food to pollinators.

Since the 1930s, figures show the UK has lost around 97 per cent of its flower-rich meadows, vital for pollinators like bees and butterflies.

To combat the loss of wildflowers, the wild plant conservation charity Plantlife started the ‘No Mow May’ campaign in 2019 to encourage garden owners to put their mowers away during May and let wildflowers grow.

Leaving the grass to grow allows for increased wildlife, generating a biodiversity environment for pollinators such as hoverflies, bees, and butterflies, which helps combat climate change.

Wildflowers also provide food for other creatures like birds and small mammals.

Hampshire County Council said that to increase pollinators across the county, it is using a range of methods to support nature recovery, among them the ‘No Mow May’ campaign in selected areas of its country parks.

A spokesperson said: “The county council uses a range of methods to support nature recovery and increase pollinators across the diverse range of locations that are under our management, including supporting ‘No Mow May’ where it is practical and safe to do so. 

“Selected areas at all five of our country parks are left to grow over May and beyond to create nectar-rich corridors for insects to rest, feed, and breed. ‘No Mow May’ signage is used at these sites to raise awareness with visitors and social media posts help to inform and highlight these messages.”

On top of this, to promote biodiversity throughout the year, the council promotes its own projects, like the ‘Parish Pollinators’, which, by working with local communities, aims to increase awareness about the importance of pollinators. 

“We strive to promote and preserve biodiversity all year around through the county council’s own policies and programmes. For example, our ‘Parish Pollinators’ project is working with local community groups, and we are also responsible for the production of the Local Nature Recovery Strategy for Hampshire that aims to increase the positive, practical actions by residents, communities, and organisations.”

The council’s countryside service manages over 3,500 hectares of land, of which 86 per cent is designated for its importance for nature conservation and 4,600km of rights of way. 

In May last year, Gosport and Fareham Friends of the Earth sent a petition signed by 1,600 residents of Hampshire to the county council to stop using glyphosates to kill weeds. 

The council has confirmed that it has reduced the use of glyphosates “in recent years” and that it is “now only used on some hard surface areas” when needed for safety reasons or to control invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed, among others.

The spokesperson added: “The county council has reduced its use of glyphosates in recent years, and it is now only used sparingly by a specialist contractor on some hard surfaced areas such as pavements and kerbs where it is necessary for weeds to be controlled for safety reasons, as they can cause damage and if allowed to grow unchecked can present a potential trip hazard. 

“In some cases, glyphosates might also be used in the case of an invasive species, such as Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and American Skunk Cabbage, which we have a duty to control. 

“We continue to monitor ongoing research on the use of pesticides and consider alternative approaches with Natural England and other conservation networks. Our ambition remains to find more environmentally sustainable and effective methods of dealing with invasive species so we can move away from the use of glyphosate-based products.”

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