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Flowers to thrive in new nature areas

Wildflowers are to bloom in areas of the borough where only manicured grass was previously allowed.

Over the next two years, the council will be turning selected grassed areas into natural flower zones. Instead of being frequently mown, these areas will become more wild and colourful as flowers become established.

The areas chosen are mainly in larger open spaces. Some have already been created, and now councillors have given approval to a plan to extend the approach to five per cent of the council's grassed areas. If gathered together, the selected areas would cover about 10 football pitches.

Some areas will be largely handed over to nature, with a cut once or twice a year. Others will have the grass removed and flower seeds sown, with the goal of eventually creating a mini-meadow. All areas will still be monitored and managed.

The natural flower zones will have benefits including:

  • creating habitat for creatures eaten by birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife
  • providing food for pollinators such as bees and butterflies
  • giving residents a more attractive and diverse landscape
  • shrinking greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for grass cutting
  • saving energy and natural resources
  • being able to cope better with predicted hotter and drier weather, which can turn closely-mown areas into emitters of CO2 rather than absorbers

Cllr Philip Raffaelli is Deputy Leader of the Council and chairs the Community Board, which gave approval to the approach.

He said: "There's an important place for the traditional maintenance regime where grass is kept short. But these days we're increasingly aware that such areas have little value for wildlife.

"By re-wilding some areas we hope to encourage nature and help meet the challenge of climate change. We also recognise, especially following recent lockdowns, how important natural areas are for everyone's wellbeing.

"Only a small proportion of grassed areas under the control of the council is covered by this new approach. Areas of formal planting like the Falkland Gardens will not change.

"And this decision doesn't mean we will leave these areas unattended. We will manage them to help nature flourish.

"This is a trial approach, which we may extend to other areas."

If residents have ideas for areas that might be suitable as natural flower zones, they can contact streetscene@gosport.gov.uk

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