Hi Kevin, (WBC Wildflower expert)
I sent an email to contact on 15/6/2017 about the issues being raised by the WNCF members year on year about the cutting of Bee-Orchids.
We did write a few years ago and a meeting was to be arranged but never took place.
Back in 2014 I remember painting their beauty when there were 50 spikes off Greenall Avenue in a small wood and grassed area not far from Morrisons.
Your department was informed and sent a map but a week later they mowed down. We were told that this was an error on behalf of an inexperienced mower who hadn’t been shown the map we provided.
In a subsequent year when there was a halt to grass cutting a further 100 spikes appeared at the side of the Birchwood expressway by the bridge over the M6 and many people contacted us to describe this rare sight. Alas this has since been mowed and manicured!!
This year I found NONE at Birchwood site and only 5 at Greenall Ave. In addition this area had in fact been churned up as you can see from the attached photo. In the small wood saplings had been cut down and turned into sawdust that has been scattered throughout the thicket.
I’m not sure who maintains this thicket but I’m sure that the action and disturbance was detrimental to the orchids ability to grow.
We realise that some residents do not appreciate wildlife and would rather see our grass verges and small meadows turned into bowling greens only to look at as they drive past but the vast majority of people don’t, at least they wouldn’t if they knew what they were missing. On a related issues this does damage to the environment for the wildlife especially the birds, bees, insects etc.
Have you yet had time to consider our proposals to at least sustain from cutting grass in these areas until the seeds have set and others that can be identified whilst the wild flowers have their moment in the season?
It was only two weeks ago that I saw a very good example of how this is being managed at Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales a village next to my namesake of Settle. The area was simply signed with a brief description of the intent and photos of the wildflowers they hope to protect and why i.e. protect a small meadow of wild flowers and roped off.
Nearer home this happens at Southworth Hall Farm just west of Croft.
Can you comment on our suggestions? We are more than happy to help you to work towards a best practice for wildflowers.
Geoff Settle (Chair WNCF)