In Spelthorne we are lucky to have a range of parks in the Borough which vary greatly in size and character. In an ever-growing bid to improve biodiversity in the Borough, a number of techniques are utilised in our parks.
Currently, 26 of the Borough's parks have such zones where the grass is mowed less regularly than other areas. These pockets of longer vegetation are often found on site boundaries and offer a wide range of benefits. By leaving some areas to establish longer vegetation, a greater range of floral species can grow, helping to promote a greater abundance of invertebrates and associated fauna. Pockets of longer vegetation are also more resilient in times of drought and help combat localised flooding by absorbing more rainfall.
The mechanical sowing of wildflowers can provide a varied richness of floral species offering a refuge for invertebrates. These wildflower zones mirror the benefits of longer vegetation but also provide greater benefits for pollenating insects. Management of such areas usually involve a late summer cut. Removing the cuttings is important to prevent less favourable species from dominating.
The planting of bulbs typically takes place in spring or autumn and is usually carried out by local volunteers. One of the great benefits of planting bulbs is they require only minimal management going forward.
The decline of bee species is well documented. Introducing pollen rich species into our parks can help pollinators by providing corridors to other feeder sites.
Tree and hedge planting
Where possible the Council plants new trees in the parks. Great care has to be taken on the selection of species and location with thought given to long-term maintenance. An effort has been made to increase hedge planting in recent years as it provides foraging and nesting opportunities for a variety of species and is more attractive than fencing.
Much like the planting of standalone trees, the planting of hedges must be coordinated with long-term management. Once hedgerows are established, the traditional process of hedge laying may take place to encourage secondary growth and ensure a dense healthy hedgerow.
Deadwood is usually retained in the parks if it is safe to do so as it offers numerous benefits for wildlife. It is hugely beneficial to a host of invertebrates, birds and bats. Stag Beetles and Woodpeckers in particular can benefit from the presence of deadwood.
Trees, bulbs and wildflowers are planted in Spelthorne's parks with the purpose of supporting the wildlife and making our open spaces attractive for visitors. The Council strives to select pollen, fruit and seed rich species and always considers the long-term management implications to ensure ecological and financial benefits.