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Churchyard Conservation and Biodiversity

posted 6 Sep 2012, 13:05 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 26 Nov 2017, 04:37 by Websites Ahoy ]
DCGA participated in Devon Wildlife Trust's 50th Anniversary Festival on Exeter Cathedral Green on 28th April 2012. The event was very well attended by hundreds of members of the public, including many children and young people who engaged in interactive activities with animals and plants.

We are now hoping to organise a Living Churchyards project in Devon, beginning with a workshop in Exeter in the coming months.

The national 'Living Churchyards and Cemeteries' scheme wants local communities to get involved in the management of their churchyards for the benefit of wildlife as well as the local congregation, visitors and the bereaved.

Churchyards have many habitats which can be managed sympathetically for wildlife:

  • areas of grassland for wildflower meadows
  • patches of woodland, walls, hedges, shrubs
  • gravestones with rare or unusual lichen species.
  • sites can be further enhanced for wildlife by the provision of appropriately sited bird and bat boxes, and wood piles.

Why are churchyards important for nature conservation?

Churchyards can provide a refuge for wildlife as well as a pleasant, reflective place for both the congregation and visitors. In a landscape where many habitats have been lost to development or changes in agricultural practices, churchyards can offer an oasis of habitats where once common plants still exist, unaffected by chemicals or ploughing. They also provide ‘stepping stones’ or corridors, enabling wildlife to thrive and adapt in response to both local and global challenges such as climate change.

A wide range of wildlife can be found in churchyards including bats, birds, insects, reptiles and mammals. Churchyards are also very important for lichens because of the wide range of stone types present in the buildings themselves and the gravestones.

A churchyard managed with sympathy and understanding for wildlife can look well cared for and be attractive to people as well as plants and animals. Management for wildlife can have other benefits including the need for less labour, reducing in particular the burden of very frequent grass mowing.