As part of their plans to protect and enhance the natural environment, Cheshire East Council is to trial a new way of managing green spaces.
For many years, the council’s countryside ranger service has been managing the countryside to promote biodiversity. From the start of this mowing season, the council will be trialling a similar approach to the way it manages the grass areas in some major parks.
In some of the council’s larger parks, which are managed by its wholly-owned company Ansa Environmental Services, grass areas that show promise to enable nature and wildlife to thrive, will be mown less. This new approach will be taken in consultation with the Friends of the Parks groups to ensure their support.
The council will continue to mow areas where there is a need to do so, for example to maintain formal areas, to ensure the visibility and safety of others or where the space is currently used for recreational activities such as sports fields or picnic areas. Paths and trails will continue to be maintained to ensure safe usage. These areas will carry signage to highlight the natural bee friendly benefits.
Following successful trials in open spaces, along with requests and conversations with local residents, there will be further trials to increase the use of wildflower mix in South Park, Macclesfield and Nantwich Riverside. This will create an opportunity for excellent natural habitats for birds and butterflies that will be relatively low maintenance once established.
In some areas, there will be increased planting of perennials, reducing waste from the removal and replacement of annual bedding plants. Perennials provide structure and form to areas and as some plants are nectar-rich or provide food for birds, they will help to attract wildlife. Other plans include allowing hedges in rural and open spaces to grow and flower between maintenance.
The council is also trialling the use of electrical tools in place of traditional petrol-powered ones such as mowers – reducing localised emissions.
Councillor Mick Warren, chair of the environment and communities committee, said: “Restoring nature, conserving heritage and enhancing the beauty of landscapes across Cheshire East is a priority for us. It’s great that we are continually reviewing and planning how we can take a different approach to the way we manage our green spaces – making better choices for the environment by supporting and encouraging habitats to thrive.
“Long grass areas create pretty wildflower meadows, which are really beneficial for wildlife and nature conservation. They are great for butterflies, bees and other pollinators too.
“Hedgerows, when allowed to grow and flower, provide key habitat and resources for wildlife – including food and breeding sites. They also provide a safe way for our wildlife to move around and provide a home for pollinators adjacent to crops.
“We continue to make progress with our activities to reduce our own carbon emissions and protect the future of our borough. Our parks are at the heart of many of our communities and the plans announced in this trial are a great way for our residents to see the benefits that simple changes can make to the beautiful green spaces we are lucky to have on our doorstep.”
For more information on the council’s environment strategy, visit: cheshireeast.gov.uk/environment.
To understand more about what the council is doing to become carbon neutral by 2025, visit: cheshireeast.gov.uk/carbonneutral.