Cardiff’s Local Nature Partnership has enlisted the help of volunteers to monitor the impact of grassland management changes across the City.
Year on year more sites in our parks and open spaces are mowed less frequently allowing plants to flower and support pollinating insects. In addition, new machinery purchased through Welsh Government’s Local Places for Nature grant is enabling grass cuttings to be removed and create growing conditions which favour meadow plants.
Although the biodiversity benefits of reduced mowing frequency and ‘cut and collect’ grassland management are well-documented, Cardiff LNP thought it would be useful to monitor changes in plant species on their sites, providing local evidence to support proposals for expanding the practice.
The opportunity to assist with grassland surveys was offered through the Cardiff Local Nature Partnership. To support volunteers with little experience or confidence in wildlife identification, the LNP have been working in partnership with the Wildlife Trust to develop a free programme of online and practical training workshops.
The volunteer recruitment and training programme commenced in July this year and to date we have recruited 20 volunteers who between them have surveyed over 50 sites which is an amazing start.
Gaining valuable experience
Feedback from both the volunteers and the Wildlife Trust has been very positive. The volunteers gained valuable experience in species identification.
‘I have really enjoyed being involved in the One Cut Grassland Survey,’ says one volunteer named Ellie.
‘We have had some amazing teaching sessions on plants, butterflies, moths, and bees. I now feel confident identifying the common meadow plants and butterflies and I was blown away by the session on night flying moths, which identified 60-70 different species at Forest Farm, including the gorgeous Elephant Hawk Moth.
‘The One Cut Meadows survey clearly demonstrated how the variety of plants increased and the number of butterflies and bees and other insects since the change in mowing frequency.’
‘A fantastic group of volunteers’
‘We’ve been delighted to organise the pollinator project training,’ says Meg Howells, at the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.
‘The training has developed volunteer identification skills in grassland plants, bumblebees, butterflies and moths. We’ve had a fantastic group of volunteers attend the training.
‘Since running the sessions all the ‘one-cut’ areas for this year have been surveyed. This is all thanks to the efforts and enthusiasm of the individuals that attended the training.’
We plan to continue to develop the volunteer programme, offering training and survey opportunities for all seasons. If you live or work in Cardiff and would like to get involved, please email Sam Eaves (Local Nature Partnership Coordinator)