Calls made to boost biodiversity in Portsmouth with less grass cutting and more rewilding

CALLS are being made to boost biodiversity in Portsmouth by reducing grass cutting and ‘rewilding’ plots of land.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 4:55 am
Labour councillors want to boost biodiversity in the city. Pictured:A Bug Hotel outside St Margaret s Church, Highlands Road, Portsmouth on 30 November 2020. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Labour councillors are set to launch a debate on improving natural habitats for insects in the city during a meeting on Monday next week.

A motion from Councillor George Fielding and Cllr Charlotte Gerada will ask cabinet to review and update policies and practices on urban biodiversity that might harm or undermine local ecosystems.

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Cllr Charlotte Gerada

As part of this they are requesting a review of grass cutting across the city and to allow some rewilding on allotment plots to improve habitats for insects, including bees.

Labour group leader, Cllr Fielding, said: ‘We know that the climate crisis is having a detrimental impact on nature, wild habitats and biodiversity. In terms of our collective action as a city, reducing carbon emissions has to happen in tandem with supporting local ecosystems.

‘Policies and practices undertaken by Portsmouth City Council should be reviewed immediately so that a better approach to protecting and enhancing biodiversity happens. In general, council approaches to grounds maintenance should aim to positively contribute to rewilding.’

The groups says it has brought this motion forward as the council currently mows grass verges, de-weeds pavements and sends notices to residents who rewild sections of their allotments, despite recommendations from environmental charities.

Councillor George Fielding

Cllr Gerada added: ‘Small actions taken by residents and the council can increase the cumulative, positive impacts of rewilding. By working as a whole city, we can do a lot to support our local ecosystems.

‘Councils in the UK and abroad take a variety of measures to enhance biodiversity, such as rewilding the tops of bus shelters, extensively planting wildflowers and greening built-up city areas. We should stop harmful practices as well as implementing proactive ones, to make the biggest possible difference to responding to the climate and ecological emergency.”

As previously reported, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust launched its rewilding projects in Portsmouth in 2019. This led to the creation of three wilder streets with residents of Francis Avenue and Whitwell Road, in Southsea, and Tamworth Road in Copnor, coming together to clear refuse and install bug hotels, bird boxes and pollinator plants.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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