New wildlife area being created at Stratford graveyard
A CONSERVATION project at the site of a former church has moved a step closer to creating an invaluable area for wildlife.
St Peter’s graveyard – on the site of St Peter’s church in Bishopton – is being restored with the agreement of Coventry diocese and Stratford town and district councils with the aim of developing a conservation area.
When complete, the area will support wildlife and the community in different ways but ultimately it’s hoped the project will transform the site, which has been abandoned since the church was demolished.
Town councillor Cohl Warren-Howles explained why the project was so important: “This project aims to create areas of grass of different lengths to provide maximum diversity for wildlife. We sowed yellow rattle late last year to increase species diversity. We will be introducing wildflowers indigenous to this area – bluebells, primroses and wild strawberries are already growing here.
“We aim to encourage insects, butterflies, birds, bees and small mammals. Invertebrates like butterflies need specific plants in order to breed. Some species require long grass on which to lay their eggs. They visit areas like this graveyard in search of food such as nectar from flowers.
“Bees are the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. They support healthy ecosystems. The UK is home to over 250 species of bee, but bees are in trouble. A quarter of bee species are under threat. We want to do our bit to help them.
“The once common hedgehog is now under threat from development and habitat loss. In just ten years, their numbers have fallen by 30 per cent and we now think that there are less than one million left in the UK. Our churchyard can make the perfect home for them.
“The project will not involve pesticides and mowing grass less frequently will help ensure wildlife can thrive.”
Cllr Warren-Howles added that care and consideration were needed as the project evolved: “It aims to strike a balance – a churchyard managed with understanding can provide an important refuge for diversity of wildlife, as well as a pleasant, reflective sanctity for the local community.
“I have been contacted by many residents across the town who are so pleased that this area is being looked after. Stuart Clifford, a stone mason in Stratford, received a call from a family in Australia who have a family member who was buried here some time ago.
“They saw an article about the project in the Herald and were so pleased that the graveyard is being looked after. They asked if Stuart would be able to clear the grave of foliage of their relative Ellen Boultbee, who died in 1926.
“A Stratford resident, Gill McGeough, has identified where her baby sister – Patricia Wincote – was buried, aged 13 months, who passed away in 1934 having succumbed to whooping cough. She is now looking to place a small stone or plant a little tree in the spot.
“It is wonderful to see what we can do when we work together. This project is a fabulous example of how nature can be protected and allowed to develop when people work together. I am so fortunate to have such an enthusiastic group of residents who share the same desire to protect the environment as I have.
“So it is important to say that whilst this area is not neat, trimmed and perfect, it is not being neglected, but is a living graveyard.”