Plans to let long grass grow in cemeteries unveiled
- Credit: Archant
Plans have been announced to let grass in older sections of churchyards grow longer in a Suffolk district, as part of measures to let wildlife flourish.
East Suffolk Council's cabinet member for environment, James Mallinder, said the plan would be enacted with the agreement of individual communities and in sections of cemeteries where graves were around 100 years old and visited rarely.
The Conservative councillor said most burials now take place in lawn sections of cemeteries where the grass is usually cut fortnightly, and main routes, grass paths and regularly visited memorials would still be maintained as usual.
But allowing the older sections of churchyards to grow long grass in the summer months would encourage wildlife and improve biodiversity.
He said: "Cemeteries can quickly attract beetles, caterpillars of various moths, butterflies and grasshoppers - they all benefit, and so then do birds, bats, hedgehogs and other creatures.
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"With many of our natural areas under threat, the older less frequently used and traditional sections of our cemeteries - those areas where the graves are around a century old - have become ever more important sanctuaries for wildlife.
"Small changes in the way we manage our land will make a difference in the wider improvements that are necessary to improve our biodiversity."
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The council declared a climate emergency earlier this year, and has since embarked on a programme of green measures.
In September, a pilot project was announced to reduce grass cutting and herbicide use in Saxmundham and Southwold for 2020, incorporating feedback from those communities to decide which areas should be cut less.
A special environment task force has also been established to come up with measures to help the council become carbon neutral by 2030.
At its first meeting an independent report from environment lobby group Groundwork Suffolk was considered, which recognised the council's efforts in cutting around 23% carbon emissions over the last three years.
East Suffolk Council Labour group spokeswoman on the environment, Louise Gooch said, "As a member of the Environment Task Group, I welcome this attempt to investigate ways to support wildlife and biodiversity within our district area; however, we are not insensitive to the feelings of those who wish to remember their loved ones in cared for areas. We will monitor the experiment to ensure we strike the right balance, and hopefully encourage residents to come to love the wildflowers that might flourish in these environments."