The ‘Making Space for Nature’ programme is a pioneering scheme to bring nature-rich habitats to urban areas. Now underway in St Austell, the programme is looking to enhance spaces such as recreation grounds, parks, edges of sports fields, verges and closed churchyards to create havens for bees, butterflies, birds and hedgehogs. There will be wildflower meadows, ponds, hedges, trees, pollinator shrubs and bulbs to brighten up selected areas.
Part of a three year venture, funding has been secured from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with support from the University of Exeter and match funding from Cornwall Council. The programme will be spending £2.9m by 2022 transforming green deserts into wildlife-friendly spaces. In total, an area approximately the size of 28 rugby pitches will be renovated.
The first project for the programme is collaborating with the Austell Project on the delivery of the wildflower meadows on the A391. The meadows include a combination of annual and perennial species in different mixes which will evolve over the years, providing colour, nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. They will also provide cover and food for birds, small mammals and amphibians. Uncut meadow patches will act as refuge areas for creatures to shelter in over winter months.
Why do we need to make space for nature in our towns?
Cornwall is in a climate and ecological emergency so we need to create healthier habitats everywhere for species to colonise, allowing natural systems to rebalance which in turn will improve the lives of people.
For a host of different reasons wildlife is gradually being lost from towns. We need to provide homes for our bugs, birds and other wild creatures, just as we do for people. Children are spending less time outdoors, so providing local high quality urban green spaces for play and interaction with nature, is more important than it has ever been. Creating new wildflower patches will contribute to the national effort to turnaround the loss of British meadows and provide pollen, nectar and shelter for our butterflies and bees. New hedges and woodland will provide homes for hedgehogs and may help to reverse the national decline in hedgehog numbers across the UK.
Wildlife is not the only focus of the project. The improvements will improve access and understanding by introducing signage, seats, paths and ‘natural play’ opportunities. Making Space for Nature will be good for people and wildlife in lots of different ways: creating attractive spaces, providing volunteering in towns opportunities, planting flowers, trees and shrubs, educating people, improving spaces for birds, encouraging them to join insects and wildlife in to help nature and enhancing space for people to relax and exercise.
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