THE Vale of Glamorgan council has introduced an innovative grass-cutting regime to a range of green spaces to create meadow areas of wildflowers.
Working in partnership with Vale Local Nature Partnership, a group made up of local businesses, charities and other organisations, a selection of sites around the county have been identified for this purpose.
Chancellor Peter King, Vale of Glamorgan council cabinet member for neighbourhood services and transport, said: “In total we now have nearly 250,000 m2 of wildflower areas throughout the Vale.
“This is not only hugely beneficial to wildlife, but also the environment and is evidence of our commitment to project zero, the council’s plan to become carbon neutral.
“Over the past couple of decades a lot of tree cover has been lost in the County and, although we have continued to plant trees in our parks and gardens, we have a long way to go to make up the shortfall.
“This new approach should create large areas where nature can thrive, making them more biodiverse and places everyone can enjoy.”
These include an area of the Old Knap Lido and locations around Marine Drive, Salisbury Road and Cliff Top in Penarth.
Cutting grass less frequently boosts biodiversity, assists pollinating insects and animals, and helps to tackle the environmental impact of Co2 emissions.
A machine is used to collect cuttings, reducing the level of nutrients in the soil, which encourages wildflowers to grow as they thrive in nutrient-poor soil.
At Marine Drive, the scheme involves altering the management of grassland in two areas.
In the first, known as western wildflowers and wilder areas, grassland of approximately 23,500 m2 neighbouring Cliff Wood on the western side of Marine Drive has been left to grow naturally and is cut on only one occasion in the autumn.
Part of this area is over-sown with seed to create an attractive section of wildflowers, with close-mown paths included so people can enjoy the scenery.
In the second area, the Birchgrove wildflower and woodland extension, a grass area of around 19,000 m2 towards the other end of Marine Drive receives similar treatment
Paths have been cut here for people to enjoy the environment, while there are also plans to increase tree cover on the eastern side of the site, extending the tree line from Birchgrove Woods along to Bull Cliff bank.
This helps to greatly increase the biodiversity of the area, improving conditions for plants, pollinators and birds, while also creating a corridor for wildlife that could potentially stretch all the way from Porthkerry Park to Romilly Park.
At Cliff Top Walk in Penarth, an old pitch and putt site which was cut once every two weeks, with the greens and fairways cut weekly, will now be managed as meadow grass and cut only twice a year.
To ensure the longer grass does not affect anyone’s enjoyment of the site, pathways have been cut through larger areas that can be used for informal recreation.