Don’t Mow, Let It Grow is an environmental success story demonstrating what Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Government Departments, funding bodies and volunteers can achieve by working closely together. In just its first year of the three year project, Don’t Mow, Let It Grow has achieved:
The initial development of 24 verges and 18 park grassland areas, allowing native wildflowers, grasses and insects to flourish, with more to follow. Improved public perception regarding the importance of the environmental impact of cutting grassland Widespread public support and awareness Important research and photography carried out by dedicated volunteers Being part of the successful Coleraine Britain in Bloom entry In fact, the first year of Don’t Mow, Let It Grow, has surpassed its target aim to identify potential areas, conserve, grow, and spread awareness of how managing and conservation of semi-natural grasslands has a wide spread impact for us all.
Expressing her enthusiasm for the Don’t Mow, Let It Grow project, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Alderman Maura Hickey, said: “This is an exciting and innovative project that the Council are proud to be leading. It clearly demonstrates our commitment to the protection and enhancement of the Borough’s stunning natural environment.’ Biodiversity Officer for Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Rachel Bain, is delighted with the results thus far: “The results from the first year of Don’t Mow, Let it Grow have exceeded our expectations, along with an incredibly positive reaction from members of the public. The message is certainly getting across in most instances that we should allow our semi-natural grasslands to flourish. One of our other key partners, are the volunteers. They have been very hands on managing the sites but also promoting the project to audiences at events, helping to improve public perception of natural sites under management.”
A Public Perception Survey gave a resounding thumbs up to the project: 97% of participants believed it to be important to manage areas in NI for wildlife purposes. 80% prefer the longer grass shown in the pictures provided. Small changes in management of grasslands give big benefits to biodiversity and ecosystem services and provide much needed sites for pollinators who play a key role in crop production. Aoibhinn Corrigan from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Biodiversity Conservation Science adds, “Road verges and public grasslands provide a refuge for our native wildflowers and a vital food source for our pollinators. As well as pollinating crops, about three-quarters of our wild plants also require pollinators; without them our wider landscape would be a very different and a less beautiful place”.
Recognition has also been received from outside the Borough, with the project being invited to participate in multiple related events such as Belfast City of Wildflowers and Pollinator Pow Wow. The former Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard speaking on BBC Talk Back, also referred to Don’t Mow, Let It Grow as an innovative project providing habitat for pollinating insects. There is much excitement for the year ahead, with further improvements in the conservation of public grasslands highly anticipated! Don’t Mow, Let It Grow is managed by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, working with the Department for Infrastructure and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Further information on Don’t Mow, Let It Grow can be found at www.dontmowletitgrow.com.