Nature uncut – please!

A month after the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority inflicted their misguided June mowings on the Walthamstow Marshes SSSI, the annual evidence of the damaging effect on flora and wildlife is stark.

On the luxuriant unmown areas that escaped the cutting and baling machines, knapweed continues to bloom, beautiful red spotted burnet moths are breeding and Meadow Brown butterflies chase each other through the long grass and foraging bees are everywhere:

5 Spot Burnet moth, Walthamstow South Marsh 22 July 2013

5 Spot Burnet moth, Walthamstow South Marsh 22 July 2013

Full of life - marshes uncut in July, as they should be

Full of life – marsh meadows uncut in July, as they should be

Red-tailed bumblebee on the surviving meadow, Walthamstow Marsh July 2103

Red-tailed bumblebee on knapweed that escaped the mowing machines, Walthamstow Marsh July 2103

Contrast this with the bleak and lifeless mown area, a few metres away but almost devoid of flowers and with only the occasional optimistic insect straying across it :

Dead zone - Walthamstow Marsh a month after June mowing

Dead zone – Walthamstow Marsh a month after June mowing

The Walthamstow Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest is currently under a Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England, for which the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority are paid substantial sums to manage the land in the interests of biodiversity.

The agreement specifically states that this area should NOT be mown early in the year, in line with accepted practice for wildlife meadow management. It can destroy birds nests and ant nests, kill small mammals, removes habitat and food sources vital for insects,  and is severely disruptive to the ecosystem with no evidence of any benefit.  And it looks terrible.

No plausible explanation has been offered for ignoring Natural England and persisting in this irrational policy. Though the LVRPA often appears immune to reason or influence, let’s  hope this is the last year we see this beautiful life-affirming space turned into a dead zone.

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