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    Thursday 1st June 2023

    Three wildflower meadows have been created in Thetford over the past month as Thetford Town Council has amended its mowing regime in aid of supporting bees and other pollinators.

    Land at Nuns Bridges Road, School Plain and Lady Gentle Meadow in Thetford were selected by Councillors for reduced mowing. This followed a public consultation seeking people’s views on the management of Council-owned open spaces. Councillors were keen to do what they could to aid bees and other pollinators by making available important food and shelter for them. An abundance of Wild Clary has since popped up along Nuns Bridges Road as well as Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill and Bur Medick.

    Councillor Hazel McCambridge, Vice Chair of Thetford Town Council’s Amenities Committee said: “These meadows are a beautiful addition to our town and give space to support wildlife which is under threat. Over a third of UK’s bumblebee species and 80% of our butterfly species have declined since the 1970s and it is fantastic that these meadows have been created”.

    Wildflower meadows provide shelter and food for important pollinators including bees. There are over two hundred and fifty species of bee in the UK, and they play a vital part in supporting the ecosystem. When wildflower meadows vanish so do pollinators, as well as other insects, and animals that eat insects, including birds plus hedgehogs and bats. Bees are in particular decline in the UK. Wild-flower meadows are extremely diverse habitats, with a huge variety of flowers ideal for bees. But since their decline, some species of bee have evolved to only eat a limited number of pollens and too much competition for food sources inevitably causes bee populations to reduce. The more diversity we have in our natural habitats, then the more bees, birds, animals and other insects there will be.  

    The Town Council’s consultation received almost three-hundred responses with residents giving their views on a number of locations around Thetford. There was clear support for a certain areas to be cut in the usual way as they are popular locations for leisure and recreational activities. These locations included Barnham Common, Melford Common, Nuns Bridges and Nunnery Drive. There are no financial savings for the Town Council in adopting the reduced mowing regime as the locations form part of the Breckland-wide Serco contract. However, the Town Council has asked that any staff time saved be redeployed to support littering picking efforts locally.

    Thetford Town Council co-ordinates a volunteer Conservation Group that meets regularly to undertake practical tasks such as the removal of ragwort and cutting back epicormic growth. The team also undertake butterfly surveys and have been asked to record details of plants now found at the newly created wildflower meadows.

    For more information about Thetford Town Council’s volunteer Conservation Group, please contact 01842 754247

    Images: Wild Clary at Nuns Bridges Road. Right and a Brown Argus Butterfly. Photos by Nick Moran / BTO


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