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Let it Grow

Mike Buckland using a scythe to cut the rewilded areas of the St Mary's Churchyard in WargraveChurches across the diocese are rewilding their churchyards to encourage biodiversity and provide a rich habitat for flora and fauna to flourish.

Earlier this year, the UN reported that human activities have already altered 70 per cent of the Earth’s land surface with up to 40 per cent of it degraded. So, encouraging wildlife in churchyards is one of the ways churches can help make a difference to biodiversity.

St Mary’s Church in Wargrave introduced a ‘Let it Grow’ zone on the north side of their churchyard by halting regular mowing and strimming of the grass. This has promoted wildflower growth and provides habitat for other animal and invertebrate species helping to increase the biodiversity of the churchyard.

The church has been following the advice of Caring or God’s Green Acre, by maintaining short, medium, and long areas of grass, each of which supports different species. Regular wildlife surveys at the church have shown an increase in flora and fauna since the rewilding began. The church also chose to switch from using fuel-powered tools to a scythe to maintain the rewilded area.

Mike Buckland, Stewarding and Eco Church Lead at St Mary’s, said:

“The scythe allows more control over what is cut when we want to encourage native wildflowers to reseed as well as reducing the carbon emissions to zero and the noise impact. We have been following the advice of Caring or God’s Green Acre by maintaining short, medium and long areas of grass, each of which supports different species.

“Before we introduced the ‘Let it Grow’ zone around the edges of the churchyard we rarely saw butterflies because there wasn’t a suitable habitat for them, now they can be spotted on most sunny days.”

Along with the rewilding, the church has also installed bat boxes and bird boxes and created a large compost area that provides shelter for hedgehogs. The south porch of the church is registered as a natterer’s bat roost and has seen the first successful reunion of a natterer’s bat by the Berks and South Bucks Bat Group.

Mike encourages others to think about introducing a rewilded area in their churchyards:

“Churchyards have the potential to be full of wildlife and it is very easy to introduce a rewilded area. It also sets a great example to our local communities showing that we care about the environment and the importance of valuing creation in the Christian faith.”

Eco Church

St Mary’s Church is one of thirteen churches in the diocese with a Silver A Rocha Eco Church award. The A Rocha interactive map shows all of the churches registered with the scheme in the diocese. If your church is not marked on the map, let us know.

Regular monitoring of the biodiversity in your churchyard is easy to do and can be a way of encouraging families and children to be part of caring for creation. Try the brand new churchyard nature hunt resource.

Page last updated: Tuesday 6th September 2022 4:13 PM
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