As part of its ambitious rewilding programme North Somerset Council is boosting local biodiversity by allowing some areas of council-owned grassland to grow longer before being cut, providing valuable new habitats for wildlife.
Last year the council joined forces with Avon Wildlife Trust to launch the 'rewilding champions' project. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project enables local residents to get involved in assessing the impact these changes are having, providing them with training and valuable new skills, as well as encouraging them to love their local spaces.
Despite only having a small window for monitoring towards the tail end of last summer, the results were encouraging. A marked difference in the abundance of plant and insect species was found between areas of longer grass and those regularly mown, and in some areas volunteers recorded more than five times the number of species.
This year, with the help of local residents, it is hoped to see even more success. Avon Wildlife Trust is offering free training in species identification and survey techniques, with a packed calendar of survey sessions across Clevedon, Nailsea, Portishead and Weston-super-Mare throughout the summer open to everyone.
“Volunteers will be getting to grips with all sorts of species, from bees and butterflies to bats and buttercups," said Jamie Kingscott, the North Somerset rewilding champions project lead at Avon Wildlife Trust.
“Using a range of surveying techniques, it’s a great way to get out and explore the wildlife on your doorstep. We're hoping that last year’s trend will continue and we’ll discover many more species thriving in North Somerset’s new wilder waysides.”
“As we alter the way we manage some of our open spaces, it’s important we're able to monitor the changes to biodiversity and see the benefits it's having for our local wildlife,” said Cllr Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and community services.
"We’re really excited to be working with Avon Wildlife Trust to deliver these opportunities for residents to get involved and make a difference in their local area, helping to shape the future landscape of North Somerset and address the climate and nature emergency we are currently facing."
You can find out more about the survey sessions taking place this summer and how to get involved on the Avon Wildlife Trust website at www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/NSRewilding.
More information on the council's rewilding project can be found on its website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/rewilding.