Chalford Parish Council has acknowledged that there is a climate emergency and that we should become carbon neutral by 2030. To do this efficiently and effectively, ways need to be found to increase carbon capture and storage, while enhancing biodiversity. Why is biodiversity important? High biodiversity provides a robust, built-in insurance policy against loss of carbon, reduced pollinator activity essential for crop growth, high water runoff and invasion by pests and diseases.
For this to be a success, a comprehensive knowledge of the wildlife resource of Chalford Parish is required. This can inform our future strategy of providing the ecosystem services that will help us to become resilient to climate change, while simultaneously enhancing health and well-being for humans and wildlife alike.
The job this summer has been to collect baseline data so that a comprehensive map can be produced of habitats and species. This will inform us on how biodiversity may be encouraged and enhanced, and carbon capture secured. Many of the areas within the Parish are already recognised for their biodiversity in the form of Local Wildlife Sites, Priority Habitats and Ancient Woodland, recognised by Natural England – see map. The survey team has been revisiting these sites and a number of new sites, particularly areas of public open space such as churchyards, playing fields, pleasure grounds and allotments.
Of special interest have been some sites with very high diversity, such as remnants of the Old Common – the France Lynch Pleasure Ground being a good example. The ChalCAN Biodiversity Group has also been instrumental in managing some very species-rich grass verges – one which has been nominated for designation as a Conservation Road Verge by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
A picture is emerging of the Parish that has a lot to offer in terms of climate change amelioration with (i) carbon capture in its vegetation, (ii) pollination services to the wealth of insects observed if flowering is allowed to proceed unhindered and (iii) the pleasure and joy it gives to people if managed sensitively. A green spaces policy is currently being prepared jointly with the Parish Council to realise these objectives over the next year.