Action for Insects at Herefordshire Wildlife Trust!

The Wildlife Trust’s Action for Insects campaign wants to see insect declines reversed. To achieve this, we want the Government to set an ambitious pesticide reduction target, as good as, if not better than, the EU’s target to reduce by 50% the overall use of – and risk from – chemical pesticides by 2030. We also want to inspire people to do their bit at home and in their local communities. But what direct action are we taking, here at Herefordshire Wildlife Trust?

All of our work at Herefordshire Wildlife Trust aims to improve habitats for wildlife within our nature reserves and across the rural and urban landscapes of Herefordshire. However, some of our actions are specifically focused on our incredible insects. Here's a quick round-up of some of our work:

Wildflower Meadows & Permanent Pastures

The diverse wildflowers and grasses found in traditionally managed meadows are vital for many insects but such meadows have become a rare habit. Modern, productive grassland is dominated by just a handful of grass species and so there is far less pollen and nectar available to sustain pollinating insects.

We are working hard to make our meadows better for insects. We have been spreading green hay and wildflower seed from our most flower-rich sites onto our less diverse grasslands. This has been carried out in 2020 at Stockings Meadow and Birches Farm. This is one way we are making our meadows as pollinator-friendly as possible.

We are also green hay strewing on private land as well as on our own reserves to improve the wider landscape for pollinators.

 

At Stockings Meadow near Bromyard, we have harvested some seed from the most diverse areas of the sward to spread on other areas of the site.

Permanent pasture is also important for insects as they need places to shelter in year-round. At our larger grassland nature reserves, such as Birches Farm, we ensure that while some meadows are cut for hay in July (important for maintaining a diversity of wildflowers) other fields remain as pasture, grazed and rested on a cycle which allows plenty of areas of long tussocky grasses to remain for over-wintering insects.

A tour of Birches Farm, July 2020

This video shows how we maintain areas of permanent pasture alongside hay meadows at some of our larger grassland sites such as Birches Farm. The hay meadows provide a wealth of pollen and nectar in spring and early summer while the pastures provide some later flowers as well as overwintering habitat for insects.

At many of our reserves - Leeping Stocks, Miners Rest, Woodside, Wessington Pasture and Tretawdy Farm - we have also been bracken rolling. This involves gradually knocking back bracken encroachment on pasture sites and woodland rides to improve the diversity of wildflowers and thus insect habitats.

Similarly, over the winter of 2019/20 we have been stump grinding and flailing at Leeping Stocks and Miners Rest. Again, the aim is to clear invasive scrub and stumps from the woodland rides which allows allows us to manage them more easily, with an aim to encourage a greater nectar source as wild plants blossom.

On some sites, such as Wessington Pasture, some grazing by livestock is helping to restore a diverse wildflower mix. Here, cattle have been grazing to manage the sward.

Pollinator Audits

Our Reserves Officers have been working hard this year to carry out ‘Pollinator Audits’ on all of our nature reserves. This will highlight where we are providing ideal habitat for insects on reserves and also where we could be doing more.

Queenswood Country Park & Arboretum: ‘Buzz about Queenswood’

At Queenswood Country Park & Arboretum, we have widened many of the rides (wide paths) through the trees. This creates sunny areas where flowers can blossom, important habitat for pollinators and foodplants for many insects.

Patches of bare earth are key for ground-nesting bees such as ashy mining bee. We have created bare ‘bee banks’ in the south wood so those bees can get burrowing!

Bodenham Lake Nature Reserve

Since 2018 the Trust has shallowed over 1.5 hectares of Bodenham Lake, an ex-gravel pit, to create shallow waters in which aquatic plants such as yellow flag iris and purple loosestrife are now supporting pollinators. We have also planted areas of reedbed in the shallows, in which a wide range of moths, beetles, spiders and solitary wasps feed and live. The shallow edges of the lake are excellent for aquatic insects, such as dragonfly and damselfly larvae.

Roadside Verges

Over the last two years, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust has been supporting the group Verging on Wild (VOW)– a dedicated band of volunteers working to preserve and restore the county’s wildflower-rich verges. They have been meeting with council contractors Balfour Beatty and local Parish Councils to support them to change the mowing regimes of many verges. Cutting less often, and after the wildflowers within them have set seed, allows as the most nectar to be available for insects and helps to maintain and improve the diversity of the sward.

VOW have also identified many verges to be officially designated as Road Side Nature Reserves (RSNV) to ensure they remain protected into the future.

Our Partners

We’ve teamed up with other groups across the county, and nationally, to ensure we all work together towards a common goal:

  • Buglife: B-Lines Project
  • Herefordshire Meadows
  • Verging on Wild