Let it grow project gets underway

Primary School children from Leaney Primary School, Ballymoney. INBM21-16S

Primary School children from Leaney Primary School, Ballymoney. INBM21-16S

“Don’t Mow, Let It Grow” burst into action as Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council launched the www.dontmowletitgrow.com website.

The easy to use website will be home to everything you need to know about the management of public grasslands and improving the fortunes of pollinators such as bees and butterflies, on approximately 20 sites within the Council area.

The three year pilot project is the biggest of its type in Northern Ireland, and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Landfill Communities Fund, working with Transport NI and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Rachel Bain, Biodiversity Officer at CC&G Council met with school children to explain what makes the project so important.

She explained: “The “Don’t Mow, Let It Grow” message is simple. Small changes in management of grasslands, give large benefits to biodiversity and ecosystem services. That helps all of us. Pollinators play a key role in local crop production and provide the service for free!”

“Don’t Mow” signs will be placed on sites across the Borough and the community is being encouraged to understand more about nature and get involved, perhaps as a volunteer. Riverside Park was one of the grassland sites announced at the launch.

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The website includes lots of interesting information about the needs of our native pollinators, for example, did you know, dandelions are the main source of early food when bees come out of hibernation in March. They also need a network of flower-rich grassland and meadows to survive and thrive in our increasingly managed landscapes.

Melina Quinn from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Biodiversity Unit added: “Road verges and public grasslands provide a refuge for our native wildflowers and a vital food source for our pollinators. Insects don’t just pollinate crops, about three-quarters of our wild plants also require pollinators; without them our landscape would be a very different and less beautiful place”.

A spokesperson for Transport NI added, “Don’t Mow, Let It Grow” is a positive management option. It is not abandonment to just let everything grow wild. It is also not a cost saving exercise, but it will hopefully save money which could be spent elsewhere.” He went on to add, “Health and Safety is our first concern and grass will continue to cut grass at junctions etc. to maintain clear and safe sight lines.”

Paul Mullan, Head of Heritage Lottery Northern explained the legacy of the project. “Don’t Mow, Let It Grow” will also produce a practical management toolkit which other Councils and organisations can use to implement similar operations in their approach to grass management on public sites. It is thanks to National Lottery players that we can help support projects such as these”

The selected grassland sites will be surveyed and different management options developed for each site to enhance their biodiversity. The project will also identify areas with Invasive Alien Species and ensuring they are not spread further.

Rachel Bain added, “When properly managed, natural long grass and wild flowers, can be equally or more attractive than carefully manicured lawns. Managed, natural grasslands can make a massive impact on nature and on us.”