Turning a Non-productive Land Parcel into Quality Grassland Habitat

As part of the maintenance of amenity grassland across Sembcorp’s UK operations at Wilton International, our facilities management team was required to mow a combined area of some 29 hectares or 77 acres 16 times per year. This was very resource intensive, and resulted in closely mown grassland that has no value to wildlife.

Our UK team recognised the opportunity to utilise the land in more productive ways. Taking a strategic, long-term approach, a Biodiversity Action Plan was developed for the site. The overall vision for the project is to enhance the biodiversity of their site by creating an interconnected network of quality grassland habitats across Wilton International. This connectivity allows movement of populations between suitable habitat areas, as opposed to existing in isolated pockets that render wildlife more vulnerable to local extinction. In terms of the practical solution that will achieve this aim, it is quite simple: to alter the cutting regime in these large areas of existing amenity grassland. The site grounds maintenance staff at Sembcorp Energy UK work with the Industry Nature Conservation Association (INCA) who provide advice and survey expertise. The outcome of this project will ultimately lead to flower-rich areas, encourage biodiversity, and be a more sustainable use of these non-productive parcels of land.

As a result of this project, the grassland will now be cut only three times per year, at specified times, so that it avoids impact to wildlife. An additional four pilot areas will also be further enhanced through the creation of new wildflower meadows by scarifying the surface and seeding with wildflowers of local provenance. In terms of positive change, regarding wildlife, we hope to see colonisation of these new areas of enhanced habitat – not least among which will be the important and declining populations of beneficial pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, hoverflies and moths. This is an exciting project, the results of which will be easily apparent to residents of, and visitors to, Wilton International over the coming years.

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