Work carried out in Lewes with help from Royal Warrant holder Burleys is already improving biodiversity across the district – after just three years.
And the town’s mayor has praised the multi-agency campaign to bring back bees and butterflies to the area.
Councillor John Lamb wrote to his local paper to spread the message about the important role being undertaken by Lewes District Council and East Sussex Highways in partnership with Wildflower Lewes and Burleys.
“Lewes Town Council would like to acknowledge the important work that is being done by Wildflower Lewes, and to encourage others to cooperate in the creation of wildflower ‘stepping stones’ throughout the town,” he said.
“We acknowledge that these groups have achieved some great things over the past couple of years.
“The verges that East Sussex County Council have already agreed to cut just once per year, and which Wildflower Lewes has been monitoring for the past two years, have shown an increase in biodiversity.
“There is therefore evidence that not cutting in June and July allows flowers to bloom that may otherwise have been cut down, as well as giving more time for others, such as the pyramid orchids, to seed.
“Lewes town councillors have voted to support Wildflower Lewes in its efforts to introduce and promote a pollinator pathway. This involves establishing wildflower stepping stones throughout the town by cutting identified verges once only in the autumn.
“These will add to verges already set aside for wildflowers, and to existing wildflower patches on land owned by the district council,” he added.
Four more sites have been added this autumn – which are poised and ready to be sown with yellow rattle seed.
Burleys local community liaison officer Karen Rigby Faux is very excited about the positive impact the campaign is having on the environment.
“We want to improve the biodiversity of our district, educate and inspire others to do the same and hopefully they will get closer to nature by visiting more green spaces. We plant chalk-loving plug plants in some areas to create mini-downland areas in the hope that residents will get out more, reducing social isolation and improving health and wellbeing.
“We receive many compliments about how the wildflower verges have made them happy on their way to work and school. The wider impact a small patch of ground can have on people is tremendous and shouldn’t be underestimated.”
Burleys and Wildflower Lewes plant several different types of meadows. Some, with perennial wildflowers, are more biodiversity rich. Once sown they are left to get on with it, year on year.
“The others are the annual wildflower seeds chosen for our pollinators – these are much prettier and have to be sown yearly. These mini-meadows are scattered across roadside verges, recreation fields, housing estates and cemeteries. This year all the meadows were teeming with butterflies, bees, grasshopper and crickets. It’s amazing just how many insects benefit from such small areas,” explained Karen.
Prince of Wales backed conservation charity Plantlife is calling on more councils not to mow verges in order to encourage biodiversity. It says wildflower meadows are some of the UK’s most species-rich habitats, but are found on less than 1% of the country’s land area, with more than 97% of meadows lost since the 1930s.