Grasslands

No Mow

Grasslands are globally important because they are a natural carbon sink and an important ecological habitat and food source. In response to our declaration of a climate and ecological emergency, and in line with our commitment to create biodiverse areas for wildlife to thrive, SSDC are trialling a number of changes to the way some of our green spaces across the district are managed.

 

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The No Mow conservation project has been developed in collaboration with South Somerset communities, parish and town councils and our skilled grass cutting crews here at SSDC.

The aim is to bring increased biodiversity to our towns and villages. As part of our Environment Strategy we stated ‘our aspiration is to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it’, and we hope that this trial is the beginning of how we see much more of our marginal grassland managed in the future.

Click on the video below to hear more from SSDC Portfolio Holder for Environment Sarah Dyke.

In support of Plantlife’s ‘No Mow’ project, SSDC are implementing No Mow Trials, by letting the flowers bloom and species prosper across certain SSDC-owned spaces, ensuring the areas provide a vital source of sustenance for our pollinators and new habitat for all species.

We are changing our mowing routine at specific areas in Castle Cary, Ansford, Milborne Port, Cucklington, Yeovil and Ilminster to allow wild plants to flower and then set seed. This has the aim of creating enough nectar for ten times more bees and other pollinators. As these areas develop you will also be more likely to spot a greater variety of flowers popping up in your community over the seasons now that these areas are not being cut five times a year.

 

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Get involved

You can join in too! There are lots of ways you can do your bit to help local grasslands and wildlife. Anyone with a patch of land, however small, can do this. Mark out your area and leave it to thrive through the summer and beyond.

 

Join us on this journey to help re-wild and return some of our verges and lesser used pieces of land back to nature.

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You can read more about how to mow your lawn or green space for wildlife here at the Plantlife website.

Wildflower Meadow Planting

Managing the margins or your land or garden can be hugely beneficial to invertebrates, birds and reptiles. This can be achieved through identifying unused areas, usually on the margins of green space and not mowing for as long as possible.

 

This can be enhanced through the introduction of plug-plants, which are clusters of established British wildflowers, sown intermittently across the newly formed meadow. This area will then need to be cut and the grass removed in autumn as our wildflowers thrive in poor quality soils, if not other species will outcompete the flowers.

 

Please see the RSPB’s initiative ‘give your mower a rest’, which provides insight on what cutting regimes would be best suited for the school.

Grassland surveys

The Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC) are looking for people to get involved with grassland and wildlife surveys, either on your own or by joining an organised survey.

 

There is an urgent need to monitor the wildlife value of our local grasslands and assess how they can be managed effectively.

You could do your bit at a time which suits you, in your garden or local neighbourhood, or take part in a group. For example, you could turn your garden into your very own nature reserve and record how your changes are impacting on the wildlife by recording your sightings on SERC’s Somerset Wildlife Database.

If you would like to help out with monitoring the wildlife value of our local grasslands, here's what to do:

How

  • Record things on a spreadsheet or notepad, or you could record straight into SERC’s wildlife database. Note down a few simple details of what was seen where and when and by who. For an example of a grassland monitoring form, click here.

  • If you need help with identification, the Field Studies Council (FSC) have produced a number of handy outdoor ID charts that can be used to help with identification, including grassland monitoring. The internet is also a great resource to use!

  • Be as precise as possible, if the details are too vague we won’t be able to make use of the record.

  • Provide any other relevant information such as, the type of record, number, sex, or stage.

Who – Provide your full name and contact details; this helps us distinguish between different recorders and enables us to check details if necessary.

 

What – Give the scientific name if you can, or the standard common name. If you don’t know the exact species please be as specific as possible about what you’ve seen, for example ‘pipistrelle bat’, ‘newt’, ‘Rosa species.’

 

Where – Give a grid reference and a location name if you can, otherwise please provide a good description of the site you are surveying to help us assign an accurate grid reference.

 

When – Ideally give a date, however the month and year, or a date range, is sufficient.

 

Submit – you can submit details by entering these into the Somerset Wildlife Database. Alternatively, if you would prefer to submit a one-off record by email or you have an identification enquiry please email SERC on records@somerc.com attaching photos if you have any.

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SERC is interested in receiving all records so don’t assume that they already know everything in South Somerset. Records of rarities are useful and can aid conservation efforts, but equally important are records of widespread species. All records can be useful for plotting the distributions of species and grasslands both locally and nationally, and for detecting trends.