Let park grass grow longer to help bees, say majority

A bumblebee on a flower in Rosedale, North Yorkshire.
A bumblebee on a flower in Rosedale, North Yorkshire.
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FOUR people in five would support their local council cutting the grass in parks and roadside verges less often to provide more flowers for bees, a survey suggests.

A poll for Buglife and Friends of the Earth found 81 per cent of those questioned believed some areas should be mown less often to allow wildflowers to grow, providing food for bees and other pollinating insects.

The bee-friendly measure would also save councils money, the conservation groups argue, with some local authorities already saving thousands of pounds every year by reducing grass-cutting.

The survey by YouGov also revealed almost two-thirds agreed local authorities should be doing more to help bees while nearly nine in ten supported councils reducing the use of “bee-harming pesticides”.

Even more people supported councils planting more wildflowers and wildlife-friendly plants in local parks and green spaces.

Dr Paul Evans, lead pollinator adviser at Buglife, said: “We are not advocating abandoning areas of council land, but introducing a new less-intensive form of grassland management.

“Effectively cutting grass less in the right places will not only help to counter pollinator decline, it will benefit wildlife and people too.”

Buglife and Friends of the Earth are urging councils to do more to help bees, many species of which in decline in the face of threats including the loss of flower meadows and pesticides used in farming.

Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett said: “Local councils have a vital part to play in helping the UK’s under-threat bee populations.

“Policies, such as allowing grass to grow on roadside verges and in certain areas in parks, will help bees, save cash-strapped councils money and are supported by the public too.”

Simon Goff, who is head of green spaces and amenities at Burnley Council, said the local authority was adopting a more ecological approach to managing public parks, with large areas of previously mown grass now managed as meadows.

“This saves money, reduces CO2 emissions, increases biodiversity and creates more attractive and interesting parks.”

In the face of huge cuts, the council was rethinking how to manage green spaces.

“We are focussing on what is important to park users such as removing litter, maintaining play areas and tackling dog fouling and we are saving money in other areas such as introducing more meadow areas and replacing expensive bedding scheme with herbaceous perennials.”