What are you doing for your #EcoChurchInAnHour this week?
Churches Count on Nature runs from 4 to 12 June and is a time when churches are encouraged to open up their burial grounds to the public and encourage people to appreciate and record the nature they find there.
Taking part involves you in some way opening your churchyard to the local community, identifying and registering the wildlife and plants that they find there onto the Beautiful Burial Ground Portal database.
St Peter’s Church at Clifford’s Mesne is managing its churchyard for wildlife, people and environmental benefits and is working towards its silver Eco Church Award. (Video below.)
Churchwarden Nell Credland spoke about the difficulties in balancing opinions in the local community between those who like the grass in the churchyard to be mown short and those who prefer it to be managed for wildflowers.
Local volunteer Simon Barker enjoys using his skills for the site. He said, “I am a professional ecologist, a nature conservation advisor for the National Trust, but what I’m doing here is … entirely voluntary as an interested member of the local community and someone who appreciates having this fantastic resource almost literally on their doorstep.
“97 per cent of old meadows and grasslands have been lost over the last 60 to 70 years, so I think collectively churchyards do add up to a really valuable resource for biodiversity and for carbon storage.”
Under Simon’s guidance, the PCC changed the mowing regime to allow more time and space for wildflowers to grow. It’s naturally very free draining and infertile soil which helps the diversity of plants, with over 100 species now having been recorded in the churchyard. They have also noticed a marked difference in the diversity of insects in the churchyard.
Nell continued, “It’s beautiful now – it’s so colourful and is bringing people to the churchyard just to come and look. During the lockdown, we couldn’t have services in the church, so we had them outside. We’ve had more people coming- now we have an environment Sunday service and children bring magnifying glasses and binoculars. The odd toad jumps out and it’s a delight for children!”