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Stunning wildflower display rewards council’s Bee Friendly approach

AN AMBITIOUS plan by Neath Port Talbot Council to transform areas around its offices at The Quays on the Baglan Energy Park into wildflower areas is gathering pace.

There is a nature emergency in Wales, with one in six species at risk of extinction and since World War II, the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows.

This is having a devastating effect on bees and other pollinators so management of land at The Quays has changed as part of the council’s NPT Bee Friendly scheme.

This includes grassland areas in publicly owned sites and roadside verges and expands on the previous Conservation Verges Scheme, which has been in operation since 2004.

In order to allow wildflowers to grow, instead of regular mowing, the areas around The Quays are now being left to grow over the summer to allow wildflowers to flourish.

A spokeswoman for the council’s Countryside and Wildlife Team said: “This is the first year of changing the management at the Quays and the council has been rewarded with an immediate display of wildflowers, including three native orchid species, the Bee Orchid, Southern Marsh Orchid and Pyramidal Orchid, as well as a host of other wildflowers.

“The area will be left undisturbed until the end of summer, when it will be mown but, rather than a normal mulching mower, council staff will use a specialised ‘cut-and-collect’ machine to remove cuttings known as ‘arisings’. 

“This helps to keep the wildflowers happy by reducing unwanted nutrients.

“Good wildflower grasslands exist on soils which are not very fertile – plants like nettles are very competitive, and they grow quickly in soils with lots of nutrients. This means that other plants don’t get a chance to grow reducing meadows to just a small number of species. 

“So wildflower meadow management is almost exactly the opposite of gardening! Whereas in the garden you may add fertilisers, this is the last thing you’d want to do in a meadow.

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“Regular mowing creates a short sward of grass which has little benefit for nature. In some areas, Neath Port Talbot Council is allowing wildflower meadows to flourish instead. We are creating space for nature all over the county in this way through our NPT Bee Friendly scheme.”

Find your nearest Neath Port Talbot Bee Friendly site using the map here.