Churchyards provide vital green and quiet space, as well as vital homes for endangered species in some areas.
Churches are encouraged to explore simple ways to use their churchyard to create a haven for wildlife, for heritage, and for people.
In many urban areas, the churchyard is often the only ‘green lung’ for the community and the rural churchyard can often be a haven of biodiversity in intensively agricultural areas. They provide stepping stones through our urban and agricultural landscapes, contributing to wildlife corridors through areas that otherwise may be hard for some species to traverse. See the examples on the Burial Grounds to Inspire map.
Why doesn't someone cut the grass?
Flowering plants, or simply areas of long grass, support many other species such as invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. The church and boundary walls, gravestones and monuments may support many species of ferns, mosses and lichens. Pretty fungi might appear in spring or autumn.
If you choose to reduce the frequency of mowing in parts of your churchyard and implement rewilding, download this free poster to display in your churchyard.
Working with the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) we've begun Wilder Churches to support and encourage efforts to provide opportunities for wildlife in churchyards. With almost 800 churchyards in the diocese, if each one provided some wildlife opportunities, it would create a valuable network for nature across the Thames Valley. We held training workshops with BBOWT on planning wildlife friendly management of your churchyard in April and on surveying your churchyard in May. Let us know if you'd be interested in more.
Churches Count on Nature and Love your Burial Ground week
Churches across the country celebrate Love your Burial Ground Week every year in June as part of the nationwide project run by Caring for God’s Acre (CfGA) and supported by the national Church of England Environment Programme. Check out the land and nature webinars.
There are an estimated 12,000 Church of England churchyards throughout the country and around half of them already run biodiversity projects, while remaining respectful to their users, particularly family and friends of those buried there.
During this week churches are encouraged to run events to raise awareness and celebrate the treasures of their churchyard, and to submit wildlife discoveries as part of a central database which will list all the biodiversity churchyards are holding in store for the country.
Churchyard Action Pack
This resource has a wealth of information to help with the sensitive management of your churchyard. There are guidelines on the management of wildlife habitats such as grassland and trees, and features such as lychgates, boundary walls and old stonework. It also includes information on how to involve others and how to make use of these places for learning and community activity.
It is available to buy or download from Caring for God’s Acre.