It’s not always true that protecting wildlife and improving local environments costs money…
Thursday 8 March saw thirty landscape management professionals from councils across the East Midlands come to our headquarters in Grantham for a workshop entitled “Letting the Grass Grow”. The workshop was run by Greenspace East Midlands in partnership with the Woodland Trust.
Delegates heard from several speakers about how councils faced by difficult budget choices can provide a boost to wildlife, create attractive areas for local people but also save money by moving away from short mown grass and towards less intensive landscape management regimes.
Our very own Mike Townsend presented evidence from the “Trees or Turf” report which shows that, while there are many situations in which grass will be the best choice, woodland clearly offers an alternative regime which delivers a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits – including reduction of urban temperatures in summer, helping to mitigate surface water flooding and removing carbon from the atmosphere. The cost savings when woodland is created on areas of short mown grass can be significant: for example ‘pioneer style’ woodland can reduce long term management costs to only a fifth of those for amenity grassland.
Gareth Boome spoke about Nottinghamshire County Council’s experiences of using different management techniques and Cee Martin spoke about setting up a community wildlife project at Great Glen near Leicester. Finally, Mark Dempsey told us about Calderdale Council’s experience of changing behaviour and perceptions by adopting less intensive management regimes. In one memorable phrase, Mark pointed out that when councils are paying £6 a gallon for fuel for their grass cutting regimes, they really need to think seriously about alternatives.
Probably the most valuable part of the day was the opportunity for discussion and sharing of experiences both in formal workshop sessions and informally over lunch and coffee. Most people seemed to agree it was an inspiring and thought-provoking event, we were very pleased to host them.
Nick Sandford, Regional Policy Officer – North East and North West England