Bedford’s bees and bugs will be able to enjoy more habitats throughout the Borough with the planting of new hedgerows and areas of natural grass and wildflower meadows including on grass verges.
Mayor Dave Hodgson announced the new measures today, which have been welcomed by Green Party councillors.
Wildflower species such as clover and dandelion provide important pollen and nectar sources for insects, bees and other pollinators that are a vital part of our ecosystem.
Allowing grass to grow longer produces a more sustainable natural environment and provides food and shelter for animals, bees and other insects.
For road safety reasons, the grass must be cut short on grass verges. However, the grass is often left long at the back of the verge away from the road to encourage wildlife such as invertebrates, butterflies and bees into the heart of the urban area.
Large areas of the parks and open spaces of Bedford have seen reduced mowing, allowing grass and plants to grow naturally.
This has seen the creation of significant areas where grasses and native plants have been allowed to grow and flower, with ecological benefits.
The Council says it is currently having a number of habitat surveys undertaken in urban open spaces including Addison Howard Park, Bedford Park and Longholme Lake, commissioned before the coronavirus outbreak.
These will help determine additional ways to improve these areas for biodiversity, including recommendations for native species and wildflower meadows.
Green Party councillors, who have been lobbying for this outcome, welcomed the news.
Cllr Lucy Bywater of the Green Party, said “At the beginning of this spring it seemed like the only way to progress this was to use ward funds to pay for some wildflower areas, and so we were happy to do this for the benefit to biodiversity and enjoyment of residents.
“We were looking forward to an April sowing with local volunteers, but then lockdown has meant that this work was postponed to next Spring.”
Cllr Ben Foley said, “We thank all those who have been writing to the council to ask for this welcome change which will benefit wildlife and hopefully give many people enjoyment too.”
Mayor Dave Hodgson said, “I know many people have enjoyed our beautiful parks and open spaces, especially in the recent months.
“Many have commented to me how they value the mix of mown areas where people can walk and play, and other areas left to protect the natural habitats for wildlife. We are now looking for more areas where communities would like to see less intensive cultivation and an increase in biodiversity.
“I have committed to planting 1,000 additional trees in the Borough and we are also planting new hedgerows on council land, as they are of huge importance to birds and other wildlife. We will also reduce dependence upon chemicals in our parks and play areas and we will be planting more bulbs that provide valuable nectar sources for wildlife and areas where mowing is reduced.
“As a Council we have declared a Climate Change Emergency and we are committed to being carbon free by 2030. A reduction in mowing will be a valuable way to reduce carbon emissions.”
Green Party councillors are now pushing the Council for evidence of their reduction of pesticides.
Residents are encouraged to contact the Council by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if there is an area where they would like to see more wildlife friendly maintenance regimes implemented.