Greenspace management in Petersfield runs counter to biodiversity targets

A report that was jointly written by Trustees of Petersfield Society and PeCAN has been delivered to each of Petersfield’s town councillors. The report, entitled, The Compatibility of Wildflower Meadow Areas and Wildfire Risk in Petersfield Parish, was produced following concerns that the Town Council appears to have adopted a policy on wildflower meadow creation and on green space management that runs counter to the ambitions in its Climate Emergency Strategy and the adopted Climate Action Plan.  

Given the importance of increasing biodiversity across Petersfield’s areas of greenspace, the authors were due to present this report to the council at its Grounds Committee meeting in May. However, the meeting was cancelled at short notice and was not reconvened.  

The report’s authors, Dr. Andy Moffat and Melanie Oxley, examine a claim made by a handful of councillors, that long grass and meadows pose an increased risk of wildfire in hot dry periods. It concludes that scientific evidence and experience from other countries indicates the opposite: that meadows can help reduce wildfire risk.  

The report makes several recommendations for greenspace management in the town that would allow more areas of wildflower meadow to be established. In a cover-letter, the authors ask for a formal response to their information and urge the Town Council to return to relaxed mowing on public open space.  

Melanie Oxley of PeCAN said, “Longer grass, particularly if it includes a number of species, actually keeps moisture in the soil and provides a low-lying micro-climate that is cooler than the air around it. Wildflower areas are not a fire risk! Our report should allay PTC fears”.

The report will be heard at the next meeting of the Grounds Committee in July. You can read it HERE.

Wildflower verge