Rewilding? Your Views sought

Following SHDC Executive Committee on Thursday 8th July the Council resolved to undertake a consultation with communities on proposals to manage green spaces differently to deliver increased biodiversity value. The associated report is available at…/FINAL_BiodiveristyReport.pdf
In response to the Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency, the Council declared a target of at least a 10% Biodiversity Net Gain on its greenspaces by 2025. This increase in biodiversity value could be achieved by changing the cutting regime of around one-third of Council green space, where this does not conflict with recreational uses, from regularly cut short amenity grass to long grasses. Alongside this can be some wildflower and tree planting. This would have clear benefits for biodiversity and wildlife.
We anticipate that of c.50ha of Council green space cut regularly, a reduced cutting regime to biannual/annual (with collection and removal of cuttings) could be introduced for about 10ha of land, with another 3.5ha sown as new wildflower areas and 3.5ha of new tree planting.
it is important South Hams residents are given a say on the approach. Therefore, a 4 week public consultation was launched on Thursday 4th July and will run until 5th August 2021.
We are mindful that the Council do not own green spaces in every Parish in the South Hams and in those Towns/Parishes in which we do own green spaces, the degree varies. Nonetheless, we welcome any promotion of the consultation within your Town or Parish that you are able to arrange as appropriate and also welcome any members of your Town or Parish Council completing the survey either as residents, or on behalf of your Town or Parish Council.
The link to the consultation which itself contain further information about the proposals is…
Ground Maintenance Service
We are also interested in finding out whether Town and Parish Councils would like to adopt a similar ‘wildlife friendly’ approach, or buy in the Council’s services to deliver such a style of maintenance on land you own/manage. We are aware that a number of Town and Parish Councils, or groups within your respective areas are already undertaking or proposing wildlife friendly management on verges or green spaces, with or without any involvement from the Council’s grounds maintenance service.
To this end, we would be very grateful for your consideration and responses to the questions below:
– Does your Town/Parish Council own or manage public green spaces?
– Do you buy in a grounds maintenance service for your owned/managed green spaces?
– If you own or manage public green spaces, have you already started, or would you like to adopt a more ‘wildlife friendly’ form of grass cutting regime?
– If you have already started, or would you like to adopt a more ‘wildlife friendly’ form of grass cutting regime, would this extend to biannual/annual cuts of areas of grass?
– If you would like some areas of grass cut on a biannual/annual basis, would you expect the grass cuttings to be collected and removed as part of the service?
– If the Council had appropriate equipment to offer a service to cut areas of grass on a biannual/annual basis, and to collect and remove the cuttings, would this be a service you would consider buying in?
– If such a ‘wildlife friendly’ form of grass cutting regime is of interest, are there any other requirements you would have if the Council was to offer such a service?
– If such a ‘wildlife friendly’ form of grass cutting regime is of interest, can you please advise us of the types and sizes of green spaces that you own/manage that you think you might consider suitable for this type of maintenance approach?
If you would find it beneficial, we would be happy to attend a meeting to discuss the consultation and the possible service we may be able to deliver on your owned/managed land. Please let me know if you would like an Officer to attend a meeting.
Next Steps
Officers will be reporting back to the SHDC Executive Committee in the autumn following the consultation. This will consider both the public opinion about the proposal, as well as interest from Town and Parish Councils in using our grounds maintenance teams to manage their land in a more wildlife friendly way. Further local consultation may follow thereafter.

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