Practical ideas for parish councils

Southern Marsh Orchid. Benhall


  • Form an active parish / community wildlife group.
  • Survey, record and monitor parish plants, birds, invertebrates, amphibians and fungi.
  • Enhance habitats on parish owned sites i.e. plant up gaps in hedges, plant new hedgerows between isolated woodlands using native species.
  • Encourage local landowners to do the same. 
  • Put up bird and bat boxes
  • Encourage allotment owners to provide space for nature in the allotments, use peat-free compost and manage pests using organic solutions.
  • Encourage local schools to use allotments / churchyards as outdoor classrooms within the National Curriculum - survey, record and monitor wildlife whilst learning about biology, mathematics, geography etc. 
  • Record birds, plants and invertebrates on parish owned sites at various times of year.
  • Manage churchyards for people and wildlife – leave patches of uncut grass to provide a mosaic of habitats; reduce the use of pesticides to leave slugs, snails, ants and other invertebrates as food for birds, leave an uncut area of nettles (nettle patches support a vast number of invertebrates!).
  • Manage ponds for biodiversity – remove silt, ensure shallow sloping edges, remove overhanging vegetation.
  • Plant a traditional orchard; volunteer for the Suffolk orchard survey (insert link) 
  • Consult specialists for advice and practical help – see list on Further Information page.

In general terms, aim to: plant native; leave areas for nature, connect up habitats where possible, increase understanding of nature and our links with it.


Case Studies

Charsfield Recreation Ground incorporating a Wild Fun Area

Wild Fun Area, Charsfield

The group’s aim is ‘to provide a habitat where people of all ages and disabilities and wildlife can thrive together’. With the help of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the group has planted new hedging as well as native trees in the Wild Fun area to form a small wood.  They have laid down poor quality sub soil and spread green hay to provide a wild flower meadow. There will be a 2 metre undeveloped area around the wild fun area providing a wildlife “corridor” and areas of the field will be left “wild”.

Orford and Gedgrave Quay Meadow

The group’s aims were 1) to provide an area of managed countryside as a haven for wildlife and an amenity for people and 2) to improve the quality of very rich grassland to enable wildflowers to flourish. Activities included planting and gapping up of boundary hedges, planting of appropriately sourced wild flower plugs and spring bulbs. Hedges, bushes and small trees have been allowed to grow to encourage wildlife (e.g. nesting birds) and dead wood has been left on site for insects. When the meadow is cut, the cuttings are removed to encourage a diversity of plants. Advice has been sought from Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the British Trust for Ornithology.

The meadow is used regularly by local people and visitors throughout the year as it provides a safe and pleasant green space to walk through, sit in and play on. The importance of the project was recognised when the meadow was identified as a contributory factor for Orford winning the Open Space category in Suffolk Village of the Year Awards 2008.

Benhall and Sternfield Wadd CWS Project

Benhall And Sternfield Wadd

The group aims to manage and maintain a grassland and wetland area in a way which preserves and maximises biodiversity and allows access for local people. The group is supported by Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Unit. An annual hay cutting regime has been established and the habitat opened up by removal of scrub willow, laurel and poplar tree and coppicing of alder. Hedge planting has taken place to secure a boundary and provide habitat. Species surveys have been undertaken and a management plan produced. A board walk has been erected on part of site.

The group has successfully improved the habitat for the rarer wetland species. Many people report that they enjoy the area and walk there. A good working relationship has been established with the Ipswich Probation Service who bring work parties to carry out tasks on the site as part of the Community Payback Scheme.

Special Note: Suffolk Biodiversity Partnership drew up a database of parish and community projects in the Suffolk Coastal district. (Insert link) This work has been funded through the Local Strategic Partnership.

Halesworth Cemetery - Susan-Stone

Hoppit Community Wood









“Plant native; leave areas for nature, connect up habitats where possible, increase understanding of nature and our links with it.”