You Can Change Our Future!
Greening Cowfold is a new initiative brought to you by Cowfold Parish Council.
We are set up to help our village become a more sustainable, biodiverse and healthy place to live. We want to work with all the organisations and businesses in Cowfold. So if you, or anyone you know, would like to plant trees, help Cowfold homes become greener or get involved in any way – we’d love your help. Please get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cowfold Butterfly Haven
The Kicking Field
Background, Plan and Potential Species
The Haven is situated in the western corner of the Kicking Field on the Acorn Avenue Estate.
April 2022 Update
Last Autumn we had a contractor lift the turf and power harrow the ground in preparation for the creation of a small wildflower meadow.
The area was seeded with a specific heritage grass/wildflower mixture which is finally showing some signs of life.
It is important that the grass is of a type that will not outcompete the wildflowers and best results are when the soil is of relatively poor quality as the wildflowers will grow quite happily whereas the grass growth is limited.
An exceptionally dry April has reduced the Wildflower germination but, at last, the first signs of tiny wildflower plants are becoming visible amongst the grass.
The first year was always expected to be a relatively poor one as the plants need at least a full season to become established. Wildflower seeds can lie dormant for a number of seasons and so we need to be patient but once we see the results, we can judge if we need to consider re-seeding the area.
A chalk mound has been created to form a specific habitat needed to attract some of Britain’s rarest butterflies. In time this chalk will become covered in grass.
We have also planted some Alder Buckthorn as this is the only plant on which the Brimstone Butterfly will lay its eggs.
Cowfold Community Road Verge Scheme
Background and Future Aims
As part of its commitment to biodiversity across the area West Sussex County Council (WSCC) has, since 2021, adopted and promoted the national Community Road Verge Scheme (CRVS) initiative, the ultimate aim of which is to create pollinator highways and wildlife corridors. Adopted verges will be designated by one of the above signs clearly displayed in the immediate area(s).
Local communities wishing to participate in the CRVS are required to have the formal support of their local County Councillor, demonstrate the ways in which the scheme has been communicated/promoted in their community and provide clearly mapped and/or photographic imagery of the proposed site(s). The suitability of these sites, taking into account road usage, vehicular and pedestrian safely will be formally considered by WSCC’s CRVS team in consultation, where necessary, with WSCC Highways and the County Constabulary. Once agreed the WSCC and Parish Grass cutting schedules are revised accordingly. A further criteria for the County’s sanction of the adoption of the CRVS in individual parishes is the safe and environmentally friendly disposal of the wild verge cuttings in the autumn.
Greening Cowfold, a stakeholder group within Cowfold Parish Council (CPC), initiated the CRVS process in 2021, obtaining formal support from County Councillor Sarah Payne on 19 October 2021. The CRVS is a collaborative one within communities and emphasis is placed on engagement with residents. In Cowfold consultation was undertaken in the following ways with members of the parish:
1. A formal Agenda item at the monthly Parish Council Meeting, open to members of the public, see the Minutes of the Parish Council, Serial 9, dated 8 February 2021.
2. These Minutes were displayed electronically & in hard copy (Parish Council website & notice board at the Village Hall).
3. An electronic ‘Have your Say on Wild Verges’ form on the Greening Cowfold pages of the Parish Council Website including maps of the proposed areas was made available for several months. The WSCC CRVS website link was included. https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/maintaining-roads-verges-and-pavements/verge-maintenance/nature-friendly-road-verges/#community-road-verges
4. Public poll on the Cowfold Community Facebook page on seasonal verges ‘No Mow’ in the centre of the village.
As a result of the outcome of the consultation, in favour of adoption of the CRVS, the safe and appropriate disposal of verge cuttings was agreed with the Reverend Sue Wharton of St. Peter’s Church, Cowfold. This allows the verge cuttings to be transported to the churchyard to join the extant vegetation management procedures.
WSCC agreed to the adoption of Cowfold as a partner in the CRVS in January 2022. In individual parishes the CRVS is a collaborative effort to promote linked habitats and pollinator highways supported by WSCC and their partners including wild plant conservation charity Plantlife (https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk) and, under the auspices of Horsham District Council (HDC) the Sussex Wildlife Trust (https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/).
Cowfold CRVS Future Aims 2022-2026
Establishing successful wildflower verges takes time, unlike planted and manicured public parks seeds need to mature and propagate, which may take several years and be affected by weather conditions.
1. Observe and identify extant species, possibly selecting a designated verge(s) for seed enhancement.
2. Ensure the annual verge management programme is effective, this includes both county and local cutting programmes. The intention being to promote grassland flowers and by seasonal cutting reduce the coarser, dominant vegetation.
3. Adopt the Grow, Flower, Seed and Mow principles, i.e. allowing plants to mature, flower and seed before the autumn cutting.
4. Removal of the cuttings to ensure the smothering plants are not left in situ. By removing the cuttings underlying soil is exposed to enhance seed germination.
5. Review the local ‘snagging’ procedures to ensure any irregularities or confusions are effectively addressed before 2023.
1. Supported by WSCC CPC/Greening Cowfold to engage with residents to seek participation in biodiversity mapping of designated verges.
2. Aspire to the reduction of soil fertility, minimising nutrients, by use of cutting schedules and seasonal seeding (March-April, September-October).
3. Mixing up different wildflower seeds to determine survival suitability.
4. Consider the viability of rotational two level verges to encourage invertebrate movement. Although this is likely to include retaining longer standing, uncut grass throughout the year. Potentially only in specific areas.
5. Promote the possibility of ‘adopt a verge’, working in line with WSCC CRVS health and safety guidelines consider the feasibility of Cowfold clubs and societies having a verge of their own for enhancement.
6. Ensure the seasonal schedule of Grow, Flower, Seed and Mow is followed.
1. Continue with the ‘citizen science’ biodiversity mapping and commence plotting species variations and appearances of new wildlife (flora, fauna and insects).
2. Maintain the seasonal schedule of Grow, Flower, Seed and Mow.
3. Greening Cowfold to invite residents to participate in a CRVS review of progress to date and ideas of ways in which the scheme can be further enhanced to the benefit of the parish.
1. Continue with biodiversity mapping and, based on data extrapolated, consider expanding the CRVS to other sites in Cowfold.
2. Maintain the seasonal schedule of Grow, Flower, Seed and Mow.
3. Consider possible business sponsorship to further enhance the CRVS programme.
More information on the overall scheme is on the WSCC website………
Here are links to our latest newsletters:
April 2022 – Number One
April 2022 – Number Two
March 2023 Number One
March 2023 Number Two
Please take a look and do forward the links to anyone else who might be interested – thank you!
Plant a Mini Wildflower Meadow
If you missed our Plant a Mini Meadow launch project, here is a link to the poster promoting this.