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Cambridge City Council

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Long grass areas on parks

Montage image of long-grass areas and a meadow brown butterfly

We declared a biodiversity emergency in 2019, in recognition of the continued decline of the wildlife on which we all depend. One of the declaration’s pledges was to make our parks and open spaces more hospitable to nature.

In 2020 we’ll be consulting on a revised Biodiversity Strategy. This will help us maximise opportunities to protect and enhance wildlife.

In the interim, we have decided to reduce the area of grass on our parks that we keep mown short. We have identified more than 15 acres that we will leave to grow longer grass.

Benefits

These areas will create more diverse grassland habitats and help connect other habitats. They’ll support a range of insects and their predators, and wildlife can use the longer grass to stay hidden.

We hope the long grass will benefit species such as meadow brown butterflies, whose caterpillars eat and live in long grass.

We’ll also be reducing mowing beneath trees. This reduces the risk of damage to the trunk from mowing, and to the roots from people walking there. It also allows many moth species whose caterpillars feed on tree foliage to pupate in the grass and topsoil.

Review

This decision will change the appearance of some much-loved parks and open spaces.

We’ll review it over the spring and summer to see how well the long grass grows in each area. We expect it to fare better in some areas than others, depending on soil type and compaction, grass species, and available light and shade.

We’ll also keep an eye on side effects of the change, such as increased litter in the longer grass, or desire lines appearing.

We’ll take a flexible approach to managing each area and will consider alternatives if any prove unsuccessful.

Map of long-grass areas