Hundreds of species of wildlife in the UK are in decline, due to factors such as habitat loss. It has been estimated that 97% of native British Wildflower habitat has been lost since WWII.
Wildflowers provide insects with food, shelter and places for species to breed. Insects, such as bees and moths, pollinate our food crops and are also important for the survival of many other types of wildlife which feed on them.
By encouraging wild flowers to grow, you will be supporting a wide range of different wildlife, including those that are both in decline and vital for the process upon which nature and agriculture relies.
How to get involved
By leaving sections of gardens to nature, beautiful wildflowers can grow. Species we traditionally think of as weeds, such as nettles, can make a significant contribution to biodiversity, attracting a host of insects such as butterflies and ladybirds.
Some great tips on how to grow a wild patch in your garden can be found on The Wildlife Trusts website.
Alternatively, wildflowers can be grown by sowing a mix of seeds. The Grow Wild website is packed with useful information on this.
There are lots of other ways to make your outdoor areas more wildlife friendly. For example, you could:
- Grow a wildlife-friendly vegetable garden, using compost created from your garden waste (for information about home composting, visit the Surrey Environment Partnership website)
- Create a herb garden
- Plant a tree – native trees are best for supporting wildlife
We would love to showcase the results of your garden repurposing on our Instagram feed. So when plants spring to life, your first produce is harvested, or you see new wildlife in your outside space, please share these images with Mole Valley via Instagram using #molevalleyrewilds
What is Rewilding?
Rewilding is an approach to conservation which enables land to be restored to a more natural state. The purpose is to achieve wilder, more biodiverse habitats in which nature can take care of itself.
One inspirational story on this subject is that of the Knepp Estate, near Horsham in West Sussex. The Knepp Wildland Project, to restore what was once intensively farmed land, started in 2001. By restoring of natural water courses and using grazing animals to drive habitat creation, the project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife. Rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding there.
The MVDC parks team is applying some of the rewilding principles in its management of parkland in the Mole Valley.
The Parks team have restored former wood pasture parkland sites at Chart Park and Betchworth Park in Dorking. Both sites are of historic importance and are UK priority habitats. The large, ancient trees at these sites suggest a long association with a more open grassland habitat, such as that which the Knepp Wildland Project has created.
The parks team worked with a local forester to thin the trees to reflect its earlier wood pasture appearance and to allow the grasses and wildflowers to emerge. An annual hay cut is carried out to reduce the vigour of the grasses and this has seen an improvement in the species diversity.
The team is looking introduce grazing at Chart Park (pictured, below) in the future, to move towards a more organic and semi natural approach to its management.