Spring into action and help record churchyard wildlife

Author: Geoff Freeman

Published on: 10 March 2016

Do you like wildlife? Would you be interested in learning more about wildflowers? Could you spare a day or two in 2016 to help Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) with an exciting new wildlife project?

This spring NWT is launching a new Heritage Lottery Funded project called Norfolk County Wildlife Action which aims to encourage people to record the wildlife they see in churchyards.

Did you know Norfolk has more medieval churches than any comparable land area in Western Europe? Churchyards often predate the church, making them some of the most ancient man made features in the landscape. Many retain exceptional areas of wildflower-rich grasslands which have never been ploughed or subjected to chemical treatment, and because of this churchyards are now strongholds for a number of key wildflower species which are declining in the wider countryside.

Six species of the old meadow wildflowers are especially associated with churchyards – pignut, meadow saxifrage, ox-eye daisy, burnet saxifrage, cowslip and lady’s bedstraw. Three scarce ferns have about 75% of their Norfolk populations on stonework in churchyards and half of Norfolk’s 500 lichen species are found mainly in churchyards.

It has been estimated that 98% of our wildflower meadows once widespread in the countryside have now vanished since 1945. Churchyards can form the only remaining fragments of old unimproved wildlife-rich meadow land in a parish or town.

‘Norfolk County Wildlife Action’ will work with local people and communities encouraging more people to get involved in churchyard recording and conservation across the county. If you would be interested in finding out more about recording wildflowers in churchyards or would like to know more about the NWT project please get in touch with Emily Nobbs (NWT Conservation Officer) by email – puhepulneqf@abesbyxjvyqyvsrgehfg.bet.hx – or on 01603 625540.

It’s not just wildflowers NWT is interested in recording. We want to know about any wildlife you see in your churchyard, whether it be the resident blackbird, the red admiral butterflies that bask in the churchyard sunshine or the hedgehog that scuttles around at night.

Whatever wildlife you see NWT would love to hear about it. From March 2016, you can record your churchyard sightings on our online churchyard wildlife recording page at www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

Remember, you don’t have to be an expert to record the wildlife you see in a churchyard, any wildlife you spot, common or rare, is of interest to us.

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Geoff Freeman

Parish Funding Support Officer

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