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Biodiversity and conservation

Wildflower meadows

The loss of biodiversity in the UK over the past 40 years has been dramatic. Due to the loss of meadows and other habitats, bees, butterflies and other pollinators have been in serious decline.

Creating more biodiverse environments is something we should all be striving to achieve. These enhanced environments bring huge benefits for everyone now, and for future generations.

Wildflower meadows are a good way of lowering our carbon footprint. A wildflower meadow can store up to three tonnes of carbon per hectare.

Areas of long grass and wildflower meadows provide many benefits including:

  • food and homes for essential pollinators, including bees, butterflies and hoverflies, as well as other insects, mammals and birds
  • enhanced biodiversity
  • a gateway for everyone to enjoy the natural world in their local community
  • lower carbon footprint

We've been actively creating more biodiverse areas across the borough. One of our focuses has been the creation of wildflower-rich grasslands - or meadows. These areas are managed differently, to encourage them to flourish. The grass may have a different cutting regime to encourage wildflowers to grow. Alternatively, the area may be seeded with wildflower seeds or laid with wildflower turf.

It can take a while for these areas to establish and they may include docks, thistles and nettles. While many people would class these plants as weeds and would not want them growing in their garden, in the wild, these are important food and breeding sources for many different species.

We have installed some colourful signs in the areas where we have created meadows - look out for them on your next walk.

Wildflower Seed Giveaway

A staggering 97 per cent of wildflower meadows have been lost in the UK since the 1930s. These meadows can contain up to 40 different species per square metre, which in turn support all kinds of precious native UK species that cannot survive without these meadows. This is why planting wildflower seeds at home is a great way to help biodiversity.

To celebrate World Biodiversity Day on Saturday 22 May 2021, we gave away more than 1,000 packets of pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds to Dacorum residents.

  • Wildflower area sign, Gadebridge Park
  • Wildflower area sign, Warners End
  • Wildflower area sign, Warners End
  • Wildflower area sign, near the Splash Park, Gadebridge Park
  • Wildflower area sign, Gadebridge Park
  • Peacock butterfly, The Walled Garden, Gadebridge Park in Hemel Hempstead
  • Wildflower meadow, Paradise Fields in Hemel Hempstead
  • Female stag beetle, Woodhall Lane in Hemel Hempstead
  • Bee orchid, London Road, Apsley
  • Wildflowers in the Water Gardens, Hemel Hempstead
  • Peacock butterfly caterpillars, near Halsey Drive
  • Wildflower meadow, Breakspear Way in Hemel Hempstead
  • Wildflower meadow - Keens Field
  • Pyramid Orchid in wildflower meadow, Woodhall Lane

Solitary bees

Solitary bees are in decline, due to loss of habitat and modern farming practices. They provide an essential function, pollinating our crops and ensuring that plant communities are healthy and productive. Without them, mammals and birds would not have the seeds, berries or plants on which they depend, with approximately one in three mouthfuls of food and drink requiring pollination.

As part of our biodiversity commitment, we have been introducing bee houses to our parks and open spaces. These little houses encourage declining solitary bees, like the Red Mason and Leaf-cutter bees to start nesting and laying eggs in the small cardboard tubes that the houses hold.

At the end of the summer, these tubes are safely transported across to Mason Bees UK. The bee cocoons are removed from the tubes and checked for parasites and anything else that may harm them. Once this is done, the cocoons are kept safe over the winter. When spring arrives, they are sent back to us and the whole process starts again.

Find out more about how you can help solitary bees.

Pollinator-friendly plants

Pollinators such as bees, butterflies and other invertebrates are critical to our own existence. To ensure their ongoing survival, we plant pollinator-friendly plants wherever we can. These plants provide the much-needed nectar and pollen that bees, butterflies and other insects rely on to survive. Examples of pollinator-friendly plants include Nepeta (Cat mint), Achillea, Helenium and Echinacea.

Find out more about plants for pollinators on the Royal Horticultural Society website

If you would like any advice on how you can help pollinators, please email biodiversity.wildlife@dacorum.gov.uk

  • Hover fly, The Walled Garden, Gadebridge Park
  • Solitary bee house, Tring Memorial Garden
  • Clarks mining bee on red dead-nettles, Halsey Drive in Hemel Hempstead
  • Mason bee, The Walled Garden, Gadebridge Park in Hemel Hempstead
  • Solitary bee house in Canal Fields, Berkhamsted
  • Solitary bee house, The Walled Garden, Gadebridge Park in Hemel Hempstead

Gadebridge Park River Restoration

River Gade, Gadebridge Park

We're working with the Environment Agency and Affinity Water to help restore the River Gade in Gadebridge Park, a globally rare and valuable chalk stream. The project will provide multiple benefits, including improved habitats for wildlife, the protection of water resources for both people and the environment, and allowing local residents and visitors to get closer to the river and enjoy nature.

This project is part of Revitalising Chalk Rivers, a wider programme of projects led by the Environment Agency and Affinity Water that aims to protect and restore rare chalk streams. As part of this programme, Affinity Water has recently completed a project in the upper section of Gadebridge Park to provide new river habitats for wildlife and to improve the river’s water quality. Find out more about this project.

Our latest proposals will improve the river in the lower section of Gadebridge Park, between the Grade II-listed White Bridge and Queensway.

The Environment Agency and Affinity Water are funding the river restoration project and we will be contributing to its recreational and amenity aspects. We expect the restoration works to begin on site in spring 2022.

More information

The Environment Agency will soon be sharing its draft detailed designs. You will be able to view the designs and provide your comments on the Environment Agency’s website

If you'd like to join the Environment Agency’s mailing list to receive future updates, including when the draft detailed designs are available to view, please email gadebridgepark@environment-agency.gov.uk.

In the meantime, if you have any questions we will be happy to help:

*Please only contact Kelly with questions specifically about Gadebridge Park’s river restoration project. Questions about all other aspects of Gadebridge Park should be sent to biodiversity.wildlife@dacorum.gov.uk.