Encouraging wildlife in your churchyard. Once you have an idea of how wildlife uses your churchyard you can start to plan how to manage and encourage it.

Churchyards are important for their habitats and as refuges for wildlife and plant life. Most churches have some green space. And in some urban areas they are the only green ‘breathing’ space available for both wildlife and people.

The Church of England estimate that 10,000 of their 16,000 churches have churchyards.

That’s the area of a small national park.

It’s a precious resource which can make a huge difference to the biodiversity of the UK.

So, good management is essential.

Wilder Churches is a partnership between BBOWT and the Diocese of Oxford aimed at anyone interested in managing churchyards with wildlife in mind.

The Diocese of Oxford covers much the same boundary as BBOWT.

There are over 800 churches, many with churchyards, cemeteries or gardens, hence they represent a wonderful opportunity for wildlife.

Churchyards are often the oldest enclosed piece of land in a parish and so many, having avoided ploughing, still support a rich variety of wildflowers and wildlife. These habitats often act as valuable stepping-stones for wildlife through urban or agricultural landscapes.

Churchyards also hold a wealth of built heritage and local history and offer a tranquil space for peace and quiet reflection.

The Diocese encourages churches to explore simple ways to enable their churchyards to be a haven for wildlife, heritage, and people.

Each churchyard is unique and provides habitat for different plants and animals.

Some have swifts nesting in the bell tower, while others have patches of long grass and wildflowers that are used by bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.

Small patches of rough ground, long grass, and compost heaps are perfect for slow worms and grass snakes, and the old trees in and around each churchyard provide food and shelter for birds, bats and many invertebrates.


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