Research has found that the number of insects in the UK has decreased by 70% over the last 20 years and indeed another more recent report has found that this is also a trend in some other Western European countries.
The causes are complex, but one thing that is clear is that the diversity of wildflower species has reduced significantly in the same period because traditional meadows have been enriched for grassland, ploughed over or been poorly managed.
We are starting to address this in our meadows and recently planted 56 different species of wildflower in parts of No Man’s Meadow as well as in turf we laid in the Abbey Gardens on the river bank.
Volunteers met at the Crankles armed with trowels and turfing tools. We took out small areas of turf to reveal bare earth and then planted mostly one species of wildflower per station. These stations will be looked after over the winter and into the spring paying attention to watering, as our autumn has been very dry so far.
We are hoping to help address the issues that arose after the cricket bat willows were taken out in the Crankles. When the ground was disturbed by taking out the trees, naturally the nettles took off, being exposed to the light after years in the shade. There are a number ways of reducing nettle dominance, but they do take patience and persistence over a number of years and we are planning to work with the Council who manage the land, to work out a solution.
One of our members, Anne Gould, has kindly produced this video of the wildflower planting project.