Helping nature recover

Councillor Hemingway smiling, holding a wildflower while crouched in Wildflower meadows

Having a range of species of animals and plants is vital for humans, because nature provides us with a support system including clean air, clean water and food.

The Council declared a biodiversity emergency and ecological crisis in March 2021, because we’re concerned about how much nature is declining, and if we don't improve ecosystems they will be less able to resist future threats brought about by climate change, like flooding, making the impacts worse. 

Nature Recovery Plan

We’re working with residents, community groups and partners to develop a Nature Recovery Plan aimed at reversing the decline in wildlife habitats across the district.

We’re employing ecologists and changing the way we look after parks, green spaces and countryside, moving away from traditional maintenance to more sustainable management and naturalisation where appropriate to put biodiversity first – planting trees and creating flowering meadows, pollinator corridors and areas of long grass.

We’re nurturing nature everywhere we can, not only in our parks and nature reserves but also on roadside verges and other spaces.

It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to carry on using these valuable spaces. In more natural areas, often there will be walkways and shorter grass nearby for recreation. We’re still spending as much time and effort looking after all of our sites, from play areas to sports pitches, maintaining paths, fences, benches, gates and flower beds, emptying bins and carrying out many other day-to-day jobs.

What are the benefits of more natural areas?

Intensive, regular mowing leaves areas with little wildlife. Cutting grass less often in the spring and summer, and creating wildflower meadows and herbaceous borders, means more places where wildlife can thrive, providing food and shelter for insects, hedgehogs, birds, butterflies and others.

Longer grass takes in more rainwater as well, reducing the risk of flooding.

And naturalised areas allow people to connect with nature, which has been shown to improve health and wellbeing.

At the end of the season, after wildflower and grass seeds have dropped and set, the meadows are cut, and the clippings removed, leaving the sites tidy over winter and reducing the soil fertility (which helps wildflowers).

Wildflower meadows and roadside verges 

Nature Isn't Neat logo

We've created more than 16,000 square metres of wildflower meadows in parks and on verges in the Wakefield district, with more planned.

So far, there are wildflower meadows at:

  • Castle Grove Park, Wakefield
  • Queen’s Park, Castleford
  • Purston Park, Featherstone
  • Ferrybridge Recreation Ground
  • Falmouth Avenue and Ashgap Lane, Normanton
  • Wrangbrook Lane, Upton
  • Doncaster Road
  • Junction 31 M62 at Castleford and Normanton
  • Newmarket Lane, Stanley

Herbaceous beds are in:

  • Queen’s Park
  • Pontefract Park
  • Vale Head Park, Hemsworth
  • Outwood Park
  • Green Park, Ossett
  • Carr Lodge Park, Horbury

Our meadows may not look beautiful to humans all year round, but they are being carefully looked after to provide a natural habitat that genuinely helps wildlife. Read our 'frequently asked questions' about wildflower meadows for more details on how we're looking after them and the benefits they will bring

We’re also reviewing our use of herbicides, with the aim that we only use them where they are needed to control non-invasive plants or pernicious weeds.

Watch this video to find out about the ponds we’ve created across the district, and how they’re helping reduce flooding and supporting nature.

Watch this video to find out how, and why, we’re looking after our green spaces and supporting nature in the Wakefield district.

What can you do?

There are lots of things you can do to support nature and biodiversity in your own garden, balcony or windowsill. Have a look at the ‘In your garden’ section on our page setting out simple steps you can take to help the planet.

World’s first nature reserve in Wakefield

Did you know that the world's first nature reserve was right here in Wakefield?

Charles Waterton created the reserve at Walton Hall in the 19th century, and while the standard way of observing animals was to shoot and kill them, Waterton watched, preserved and enhanced nature - just as we're trying to do today.

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