Cardiff Local Nature Partnership has used Local Places for Nature funding to change the way grasslands in parks and open spaces are managed across the city and increase biodiversity. The parks department introduced a ‘one cut’ mowing regime to areas within parks and open spaces several years ago to provide a more diverse range of habitats, support pollinating insects and promote the growth of a more diverse plant community. The number of sites where mowing frequency has been reduced has increased year on year and machinery has been purchased to expand the number of sites where ‘cut and collect’ has been implemented.
Volunteers were trained in workshops developed by Cardiff LNP and the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, to develop plant identification skills and survey techniques. They then carried out surveys of grassland plants to gather local evidence of the benefits of reduced mowing on plant diversity. The results were used to demonstrate the positive impact these changes are having on nature and help inform future site management decisions. Evidence shows that parks and grass verges are an important part of biodiversity in urban areas, and can greatly help with ecosystem resilience.
The unusually dry summer in 2022 made plant identification more difficult on some sites because the plants were parched. In 2023, surveys were started earlier to address this. Also, some sites which had been designated as ‘one cut’ had been mown by the council’s grounds maintenance team following complaints from the public. However, public perception is changing, and “It’s For Them” signage has helped to explain the benefits of the one cut regime. Feedback from volunteers has been overwhelmingly positive, and the LNP will continue to recruit more volunteers to help with surveying and promoting the new mowing regime.
Ellie, a volunteer surveyor, said: “I have really enjoyed being involved in the One Cut Grassland Survey, looking at Biodiversity. I have always been interested, but not too knowledgeable about plants, although I did Biology A level many years ago. We have had some amazing teaching sessions on plants, butterflies, moths, and bees. I now feel fairly 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 also the number of butterflies and bees and other insects.”