Managing for wildlife
We are improving the wildlife value of many of our parks and open spaces by changing how we manage them. We aim to achieve a balance between providing good quality habitats for wildlife and ensuring that the space can be enjoyed by our visitors.
When we improve parks and open spaces for our visitors we also try to improve the site for wildlife. This could be through the creation of a new habitat (e.g. planting a hedgerow) or enhancing the features already there.
Some of the ways we are encouraging wildlife include:
- Leaving areas of unmown grass around the margins of some parks
- Creating wildflower meadows and grassland meadows, including sustainable planting on roundabouts
- Maintaining over 400 bat, bird and owl boxes
- Leaving dead wood in trees where it is safe to do so
- Making habitat piles in some parks and woodland areas
- Enhancing wildlife corridors along the Rivers Leam and Avon
- Reducing our use of pesticides as much as possible
Helping our bees
Bees are vital to our environment. They pollinate around a third of the food we eat. Without them, we might not have fruits such as apples, kiwis and watermelons. Our bees – including honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees - are under threat for a variety of reasons. These include pesticide use, viruses, and loss of habitat.
We’re helping bees in our parks by:
- Using more bee-friendly plants in our formal bedding
- Creating bee-friendly areas in the Sensory Garden and East Lodge Garden in Jephson Gardens
- Planting flowering trees
- Sowing wildflower meadows
- Educating the public using beehives in Jephson Gardens, which are maintained by Warwick and Leamington Beekeepers
- Allowing local beekeepers to keep bees on council land
- Building insect homes, which are great for solitary bees
Many of the ways we are helping bees also benefit other insects, such as butterflies.
Our work helping pollinating insects in Jephson Gardens resulted in us being awarded a Bees' Needs Award in 2016.
Formal bedding and sustainable planting
We have made changes to some of our planting schemes in Warwick District. Some areas of formal bedding have been converted to sustainable planting. Sustainable planting is more environmentally friendly and better for wildlife than formal bedding, and costs less to maintain.
Formal bedding is replanted twice a year. Most of the plants are annuals. These live for a few months before dying off. Formal bedding looks great but is high maintenance; it requires frequent visits and watering.
Examples of formal beds include the main lawn in Jephson Gardens (Leamington Spa), Pageant Gardens (Warwick), and Abbey End (Kenilworth).
Sustainable planting uses perennial plants, which live for many years. The bed is designed to look good throughout the year, and does not need to be replanted. Sustainable planting needs fewer maintenance visits. This reduces costs in terms of time, water, fuel, and vehicle emissions.
Changing from formal bedding to sustainable planting has reduced the amount of water we use to keep plants alive. We save the equivalent of a 25 metre swimming pool of water each year.
Examples of sustainable planting include Lillington Road Island and Euston Place in Leamington Spa, and the bus shelter at Abbey Fields (Kenilworth).
Maintenance costs for planting schemes
- Formal bedding: £12/m2 per year
- Sustainable planting: £4.60/m2 per year
This doesn't include the cost of plants. In formal bedding, the plants must be changed twice a year. Sustainable planting doesn't need to be changed, so plant costs are lower.