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Forres areas are chosen by Moray Council for wildflower pilot

By Garry McCartney

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Sections of the slopes at the Thomson Memorial have already been left to nature.
Sections of the slopes at the Thomson Memorial have already been left to nature.

FORRES is to participate in a wildflower pilot organised by Moray Council.

Lands and parks officer Ken Kennedy has confirmed that, following discussions with Forres Green Spaces Group and Forres In Bloom, as well as attending a series of events arranged by the North of Scotland Biodiversity Action Group, a wildflowering scheme has been agreed for Castlehill, Bogton and Sanquhar this summer.

He said: "They were chosen because they have poor soil conditions and areas where arisings could be unobtrusively stored. Wildflowering will improve the local charter and visual interest of the areas too."

Mr Kennedy explained that the local authority will allow the grass to grow uncut until late summer then cut and collected for the remainder of the year.

He said: "Grass collection is a costly business but if the cuttings are stored on site, allowed to degrade and not removed to landfill, composting costs can be avoided and nature would then take its course. The cuttings have to be stored on the same category of area as they were cut.

"Soils with high fertility containing high levels of nitrates and phosphate, for example, support more vigorous grasses and competitive species such as nettles and cow parsley. Removing the arisings at the point of cutting takes biomass and the nutrients they contain away from the area. This reduces the layer of dead grass and opens up the soil surface to allow seed germination. Repeated over a number of years, it has demonstrable impact on soil fertility, encouraging slower growing and more diverse species that require less management, so delivering direct cost savings."

The slopes around Sanquhar pond are ideal for wildflowers.
The slopes around Sanquhar pond are ideal for wildflowers.

Mr Kennedy pointed out that increasing numbers of councils are adopting the cut-and-collect method to reduce management costs. He also claimed reduced cutting reduces operational impacts such as traffic management, ensures drainage courses remain open, aids litter collection and delivers wider benefits such as supporting increased numbers of pollinators.

He said: "Sterile, manicured lawns are slowly but surely being challenged. Species-rich verges enhance the local character and visual interest, and help the areas blend into the wider landscape.

"Wildflower areas have been found to support health and wellbeing, and promote civic pride. Creating and managing species-rich grassland is a brilliant way to improve biodiversity and reduce long-term management costs.

"Native wild flowers support wildlife, are more resilient to environmental change, enhance ecological connectivity and provide better ecosystem services such as pollination.

"When maintained through a cyclical management regime, grassland areas provide a cost-effective management option."

Forres In Bloom secretary Sandra Maclennan has agreed to the wildflowering pilot over the next few years.

She added: "Grass cutting at Grant Park will decrease this year. However, borders along paths, sports areas and play areas will be cut."

Waste ground between Mosset Park and Bogton Road.
Waste ground between Mosset Park and Bogton Road.

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