Wildlife conservation at St Marys Churchyard Shotesham
Coordinator for Conservation Group: Raz Woollacott
Overview: A fine wildflower site especially important for the pyramidal orchids. There has been a tradition for some years now of Conservation Group arranging work groups which are always well attended by volunteers. The site is managed in close cooperation with the PCC.
Amended Management Plan for 2017:
Approach. The PCC remain in favour of a significant proportion of the churchyard being managed for wildlife conservation, particularly for wildflowers. At the same time they want it to be obvious to users of the church and churchyard that this is a deliberate and managed plan and not just a matter of neglect. The following plans are aimed at achieving this balance:
The main drive: The long triangular border to the left of the path when facing the church, is kept mown by the PCC. The wildlife interest is relatively small here and keeping it mown will enhance the “cared for” appearance of this area.
In a similar vein, the border to the right of the path is kept mown to a width of about 2 meters (one mower’s width behind the rose bushes). This keeps the area neat and also demonstrates that the uncut area behind is deliberate policy.
The old graveyard area. Apart from the 2 areas described above, the whole of the old graveyard area is managed as a wildflower meadow by the Conservation Group. It is not be cut (and raked) until August each year. The existing wide mown path around the church is maintained by the PCC. Some paths are cut through the wildflower area to allow some access to visitors.
The back (i.e. the north) of the church: This area is in 3 parts at the moment. There is a wildflower meadow to the east of the modern graves. This is the prime site for Pyramidal Orchids and will continue to be managed as at present. The next part is the modern graveyard which is maintained by the PCC and kept mown. This is important for families visiting graves and the mowing regime will continue.
The third part consists of a wide strip of wildflower meadow which is steadily improving and will continue to be managed by the Conservation Group. This area is steadily improving in wildlife interest and should continue to do so with the same management. Adjacent to this area on the north boundary is the “compost heap” which will be retained and built up mainly for the benefit of the Slow Worms (a threatened species throughout the country). The existing uncut area on the northern boundary will be maintained as it is, to provide some “rough” vegetation.