Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership

Case Studies – Your Projects

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The Future Generation

Submitted by Tania Hopper.

I had my son 5 months ago and all I see in my home town is new homes being built on what used to large green areas.

We have honey bees residing above my neighbours front door and in order to continue growing flowers we need the bees. Therefore we’ll look after the bees and they’ll look after us.

I want my son to grow up appreciating nature and wildlife and not to take our beautiful country for granted.

We’ve planted 2 rose bushes in our back garden and are currently growing sunflowers as well.

Berkhampstead Field – Chesham Wildflower Sites

Following discussions about the health of wildflower sites across Buckinghamshire and the publication of the State of the Environment Report, Chesham Town Council has begun the process of trying to materially improve the quantity and quality of wildflower sites in and around the town.

Berkhampstead Field is located next to Nashleigh Hill Recreation Ground off Vale Road and is just over 2 ha in size. The field is managed as a chalk grassland habitat in partnership with Chesham and District Natural History Society (CDNHS) and is a designated Local Wildlife Site. The field has been recorded as containing 38 wildflowers species and 12 grasses, including some key chalk grassland species. Seven butterfly species have been found there, including the dinghy skipper, which is declining in range in the UK.

The field was grazed by cattle belonging to a local farmer through an informal agreement between the 1940s and 2008. When the farmer retired, the field initially underwent amenity grass cutting to keep the field “looking tidy”. A member of the public alerted the Council to the potential of the field as a chalk grassland habitat. 80% of naturally managed chalk grassland has been lost from this country since World War Two, making the site potentially very important for wildlife. The Town Council teamed up with CDNHS in 2010 to trial a more natural approach to the site’s management. The grass is now cut once a year and the cuttings are taken away to ensure that the soil nutrient levels are poor; a key ingredient for a diverse grassland. The new management system has enabled the wildflowers and grasses to flourish, culminating in the designation of the field as a Local Wildlife Site. You can find more information on the Chesham Town Council Parks and Open Spaces website.

Castlemead Bee Orchids – Pitstone Parish

During the early months of 2016 we identified nearly 300 small plants which we thought were bee orchids over the whole of Castlemead housing estate in Pitstone. Having obtained advice from the experts at nearby College Lake (managed by Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust) and the biodiversity officer at the district council, we chose to protect 3 areas of grass verge/open space along Westfield Road where the fledgling plants grew in the greatest density. The parish council obtained the support of Taylor Wimpey (current land owners) and Aylesbury Vale District Council (who will take ownership of the land upon transfer) who agreed to suspend grass cutting in these areas to enable the orchids to flourish and we advised residents of the project.

We were delighted that well over 100 bee orchids and dozens of pyramidal orchids flowered within these relatively small areas and we understand that to see orchids in such a large quantity in such a small area is quite rare. Some of the orchid spikes were over 40cm high. As well as the orchids, there was also an abundance of other beautiful wildflowers in these plots which in turn attracted butterflies and insects, including the rare small blue butterfly.

The initiative was in line with the parish council’s stated policies, and the community aspirations, identified within the Pitstone Neighbourhood Plan.

Sustainable living in Wantage Grove

In 2015 Grove Parish Council offered the use of a 600 sq metre site, and contributed financially to assist Sustainable Wantage in the creation of a wild flower nature reserve, to be made available as a public amenity. A grant was provided by Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2), who are supported by Grundon Waste Management through the Landfill Communities Fund.

With the help of approximately 85 volunteers from the local community, including about 50 children, and with many donations of plants, saplings and bird boxes, what was a wilderness 12 months ago is now transformed. Annual wild flowers have been sown in about a third of the area this year, and there are plans to sow perennials in the remaining part in the future.Sustainable Wantage is a Community Action Group working to promote and facilitate sustainable living in Wantage Grove and the surrounding area. To find out more about the wildflower nature reserve and their other projects visit www.sustainablewantage.org.uk or follow them on Facebook (Sustainable Wantage).

Photograph courtesy of Peter Kent and Dave Mattam.

Letting the Garden Grow

Sometimes doing more for pollinators can mean doing less, and everyone can be a gardening hero. Susanna in Chesham keeps her garden pollinator-friendly with only a few simple steps:

– allowing wild plants to flower

– leaving wood, cuttings and plant matter in a corner for insects

– never using any pesticides

– overall interfering very little and letting the plants grow!

Planting for the future

Planting fruit trees on our patch in Ivinghoe Aston – great for pollinators – and for us!

Allow Road Verges to Blossom

In Milton Keynes changing the numbers and timings of grass cuts such as on this road verge outside a Council depot is allowing more flowers to grow. Even unusual plants such as these two Bee Orchids can appear alongside more common flowers!