North Wales Wildlife Trust Living Churchyards Project
Iwan Edwards of the North Wales Wildlife Trust had a vision! He wanted to improve the ancient churchyards of North Wales for wildlife and help safeguard one of the most enduring features of the North Wales landscape. Besides managing the land for wildlife, a number of Nurturing Nature bumblebee nest boxes and solitary observation nest boxes were purchased an found new homes in ancient churchyards! A site visit by myself and Iwan produced some success, with Iwan stating, “Within a few days of erecting the solitary bee nest boxes I was amazed that solitary bees were already using them!”
It is estimated that, since 1945, 98% of the flower-rich grassland once widespread in the countryside has vanished, either as a result of cultivation, by ‘improvement’ with fertilisers, re-seeding or drainage, or through development.
Many older churchyards are remnants of ancient meadows that were used for hay or grazing animals long before the church itself was built.
Churchyard projects throughout the country help ensure the survival of species that are now rare or uncommon, such as pignut, meadow saxifrage and burnet-saxifrage.
The variety of stone used in church walls and gravestones also represents an invaluable habitat, providing a home for numerous species of lichens, mosses and ferns.
Patches of woodland, hedges and shrubs often border or are included within the churchyard boundary, provide a largely undisturbed habitat for species such as butterflies, slow worms, lizards and bats, provided of course that they are managed sympathetically.
Over the coming year, we will be working closely with communities in Flintshire to create flagship examples of churchyard conservation.
The long term goal is that there will be a greater network of advice and support available to other groups / communities who wish to do the same in the future. Download the information sheet here