We are delighted to share with you the wonderful new initiative from the Long Ashton Parish Councils Biodiversity Working Group. But first, let us tell you a bit about the working group and what they do. The Parish Council created the biodiversity working group to help advise them via the environment committee to maintain and significantly improve biodiversity within the parish. The working group comprises Councillors and Long Ashton and Leigh Woods residents who meet regularly to discuss, report and implement ideas that will help make the parish more environmentally friendly. We want to thank working group member Amanda Barrett for writing the following fantastic article and allowing us to share it with you!

What’s the problem?

When reports of plummeting wildlife populations both nationally and globally hit the headlines, the parish councillors of Long Ashton & Leigh Woods declared a Biodiversity Emergency in Long Ashton. Since then, it’s been confirmed that out of the G7 countries, the UK has the lowest level of biodiversity remaining, so the Government has set a national target to increase space for nature by 30%. And across the country, gardeners, landowners, farmers and councils are turning words into action. Here in Long Ashton & Leigh Woods, we have our part to play and hope as many people as possible will embrace the concept of helping nature recover in our parish.

What’s happening?

To start the ball rolling, the parish council has developed an initiative called Biodiversity: Every Garden Counts. Making gardens wildlife-friendly isn’t a new concept but has gathered lots more momentum in recent years. To build momentum, sharing plants, advice, photos and experiences could be key in spreading the word amongst your neighbours. LACA is involved too. Since 2017 areas above the football pitches in Peel Park have been left un-mown, and gradually, flower and grass species have increased whilst crickets, grasshoppers, bees and butterflies have returned to feed and breed in these patches of long grass. Excitingly, a pyramidal orchid burst into bloom here this summer, and we hope others will follow suit next year. In the autumn, a strip of grass along the southern end will be replanted with species-rich grassland, and within a year or two, we should all enjoy seeing a wealth of plants and pollinators enjoying this new habitat. And there are other projects in the pipeline too.

Top tips

Here are some top tips that you may not have thought of before: • Build a Beetle Bucket, Beetle Bank or Dead Hedge in your garden or local green space. If you want to know why and how, here’s the link https://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/. If lots of people join in by marking their commitment on an interactive map, the Every Garden Counts initiative will make a big splash • Create a mini-meadow by leaving a section of grass un-mown. And maybe seed it with some ‘wildflower bombs.’ • Provide homes for wildlife – e.g. bird boxes, bug hotels or a log/stick pile. • Avoid using pesticides, herbicides, slug pellets and peat. • Leave a wild/untidy/unweeded corner for nettles and other vigorous wild plants • Add water – if not a pond, then an old washing up bowl will do but make sure creatures can get in and out of the container easily. Without this, bees can drown

Children’s ‘My Garden Counts’ worksheet.

As part of the Biodiversity: Every Garden Counts initiative, we are asking the children of Long Ashton and Leigh Woods to complete our ‘My Garden Counts’ worksheet. To do this, we would like them to get creative by sticking things, writing or drawing something on the worksheet that tells people why their garden counts and then put it in their window for others to see. Take a look at the example below created by our honorary member Katherine Tarsey aged 11. Click here to download the ‘My Garden Counts’ worksheet.

Other news

Long Ashton Nature, Community & Environment Trust (LANCET) is a working group already liaising with some key local landowners in the parish to increase biodiversity on their land. LANCET is in the process of establishing itself as a charity, and with much expertise amongst its core group, it has already received a grant to establish 1 hectare of species-rich permanent grassland on some arable land belonging to the University of Bristol. Connectivity is key, so LANCET is collaborating with other local groups such as Friends of Colliter’s Brook in order to ensure that wildlife corridors are kept open for key species to move between reserves such as Tyntesfield and Ashton Court. If we can achieve nature recovery at a landscape scale within our parish and those next door within a generation, we may be able to see a change within our much-loved parish that will make our lives brighter, benefit wildlife and leave the world a better place for future generations to come.

Why is nature recovery important?

Biodiversity and well-functioning ecosystems are critical for human existence, economic prosperity and affects human well-being. Nature can deliver at least 30% of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to prevent climate catastrophe whilst biodiversity is an integral part of culture and identity. Biodiversity loss and environmental degradation poses a risk to global food security and increase the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases. And, for many people, nature has deep intrinsic value itself.

What to find out more?

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