Colchester Borough Council have changed the grass cutting regime in certain areas across the borough to encourage greater biodiversity in some of the council's green spaces, as part of the Colchester Woodland Project.
The cutting regime in areas around Castle Park has changed from once every three weeks to once at the end of the growing season (around mid-autumn). This will encourage wildflower growth and help develop the area for invertebrates such as bees, butterflies and moths.
Changes have been made with the aim of benefitting pollinators and other insects, which are hugely important for lots of things, including the regulation of the natural environment and the food system.
Whilst it may be perceived that ‘weeds’ and long growth of plants and flowers can look unruly, this approach has been adopted by other councils, and the wildflowers look very visually attractive during the growing season, as well as supporting wildlife and our environment.
Since this reduction in grass cutting has been put in place 18 species of butterfly have been recorded in the areas, which is about a third of all the species found across the country. A large number of bee species have also been identified which is a great result for such a short period of time.
This also supports other areas of the Colchester Woodland Project, including the phasing out of glyphosate-based products by using alternative methods of controlling weeds and other plants - either by leaving them to grow organically in some places, or removing them using methods that are more environmentally friendly such as hand weeding and grass strimming.
The council will be looking to work with local school children to help design signage for these areas in a bid to help educate them around the project and the importance of looking after and supporting our environment to flourish.
Cllr David King, Portfolio Holder for Business and Resources, said: "The Colchester Woodland Project is not just about planting new trees, important though it is.
“Encouraged by the Colchester Natural History Society and others, it is becoming about letting nature flourish too, about greening Colchester, creating new habitats for wildlife, and helping bio-diversity flourish.
“The change in grass-cutting regime really supports this. The results we have already seen in species of wildlife is fantastic and we think wildflowers in full bloom look beautiful too.”
You can find out more about the Colchester Woodland Project at www.colchester.gov.uk/better-colchester.