No Mow May is an environmental initiative that encourages individuals and communities to refrain from mowing their lawns during the month of May, providing wildflowers and pollinators a chance to thrive. While this grassroots campaign has gained momentum and positive outcomes, town councils, responsible for the management and upkeep of public spaces often find it challenging to participate actively. However, there are alternative strategies that have been adopted by Buckingham Town Council to promote biodiversity and support pollinators in our town.
Designated areas, such as the bypass and Bourton Park’s wildflower meadow can serve as biodiversity hotspots while allowing most public spaces to be regularly maintained. The Town Council, under devolved services, is responsible for mowing all grassed Highway verges across Buckingham. The Town Council has, for years, adopted the practice of only cutting Highway verges to a single mower’s width, leaving the larger sections of the verge to grow naturally with wildflowers offer numerous benefits to both the environment and the well-being of wildflower populations. By allowing wildflowers to flourish, highway verges can help preserve native plant species, some of which may be threatened or endangered.
The Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Environmental Record Centre (BMKERC) have commended the Town Council on their approach to preserving and promoting wildflower growth along our highways. Highlighting clusters of Bee Orchids, Grass Vetchling, and pockets of native wildflowers along the A421 bypass. The Greenspaces Team mow around clusters of wildflowers within the town without compromising public safety or infrastructure maintenance.
Since 2017/18, Buckingham Town Council has increased the number of meadow and wildflower areas in Buckingham to over 10,250 m2 to improve biodiversity and help pollinators – that is over 2.5 acres or the equivalent of 14 tennis courts and has the potential to be home to millions of insects.
Awareness and Education
Buckingham Town Council host an environmentally themed stall at each public event to encourage residents to plant small sections of native wildflowers across Buckingham’s gardens, creating regular nectar ‘pit stops’ for pollinators. Free packets of native wildflower seeds are handed out at our annual Spring Green Fair and Celebrate Buckingham events. As a way of generating further engagement, competitions, and awards for innovative approaches to tackle the climate emergency are promoted by the council. The Town Council encourage private property owners to participate in No Mow May can significantly contribute to the campaign’s success.
One of the Town Council’s objectives within the Climate Emergency Action Plan is to ‘Protect and enhance native species and habitats. Promoting and supporting opportunities for environmental enhancement and regeneration’. In 2021 The Town Council installed wildflower boards in Bourton Park to promote the planting of native wildflower species and the following Autumn thousands of native Woodland bulbs were planted around Bourton Park.
While the No Mow May campaign presents commendable efforts to support biodiversity and pollinators, the Town Council encounters various challenges that restrict their full participation. Legal obligations, public safety concerns, infrastructure maintenance, and potential public backlash must be carefully considered. Adopting alternative strategies that strike a balance between environmental conservation and essential Town Council responsibilities can help achieve the campaign’s objectives while still fulfilling the Council’s obligations to its residents.
Chair of Environment Committee, Fran Davies says, “ Our Green Spaces Team, headed by Lee Philips, are passionate about protecting and improving our environment and this approach to the maintenance of our verges and green spaces gives a good balance between providing for insects and pollinators and ensuring safety at junctions.”
- For enquiries, please contact Claire Molyneux at Buckingham Town Council on 01280 816426, firstname.lastname@example.org