Scything Workshop

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From Carolyn Thomas, our Flintshire County Councillor

“The strip of land between the rear gardens of the new development and the footpath from Queen Street to Ffordd y Rhos is a wildlife corridor set up as mitigation of loss of habitat due to the development of an area that had been left to nature for a while.

The idea is that if it is cut once a year and the risings removed, wildflowers and a mix of plant species creating a diverse habitat for a wider range of insects and wildlife will eventually develop there.  The risings have to be removed because if they are left to rot back in then the area becomes nutrient rich which is not good for encouraging wildflowers.  It is based on the principal of meadow management.

In front of the police headquarters in Colwyn Bay an area has been left for conservation and managed in this way.  There are now seven types of orchids, one for each year since the new cutting and removing regime started. Including the scarce bee orchid, which has evolved to look like a female bee; and the pyramidal orchid, this produces a strong scent to attract both day and night-flying moths and butterflies. Other orchid species are the broad-leaved helleborine, common twayblade and the common spotted orchid.  When the project started in 2003, the grassland held very little biodiversity or wildlife interest because it had been mowed regularly. Since then Conwy’s Parks Section, in partnership with the Countryside Service and North Wales Police, have allowed the grass to grow long in the Spring and Summer before cutting and baling it at the end of the season.

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Meadow management is really beneficial to all sorts of wildlife. Meadow flowers have a chance to flower and set seed, bees and butterflies are attracted to the grassland to pollinate the flowers and the butterflies can lay their eggs in the long grass.  The variety of grass seed is a good food source for birds.  Although meadows used to be common in Wales, we have lost nearly all of them of them since the Second World War.

Flintshire County Council has set aside a piece of land by County Hall for biodiversity.  The grass was left long and paths cut through to and around the benches.  I attended a scything workshop there a couple of weeks ago.  It was really interesting as we learned about putting together the scythe and setting the blade and handles to the right cutting angle to make ease of use and less strain on the body.  We also learned how to keep the blade sharp and create a new edge when blunt and worn.  It was surprisingly enjoyable and not too strenuous; it was also great to learn an old and timeless craft.

There is funding available for a workshop to be held in Treuddyn if enough people are interested, I need a group of about ten people and it would be free.  Following the initial training we could have a go at scything the wildlife corridor.  Please let me know if you are interested.
Carolyn (01352 770946)

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