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City’s new grassland plan wins national award for innovation

Mowing

A NEW plan to manage Leicester’s urban green spaces in ways that benefit the environment and help nature thrive has won a national award for innovation.

Leicester City Council’s new ten-year grassland strategy was awarded the Innovation in Parks and Green Spaces prize at the Keep Britain Tidy local authority Network Awards 2024.

The new strategy, which came into effect in spring 2023, sets how managed areas of longer grass and wildflowers can provide a haven for wildlife and a lifeline for bees and other pollinating insects.

Grassland also has the capacity to help take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by capturing it in leaves and roots over time and, in the longer term, storing some of it in the soil below. This natural process is called carbon sequestration.

Around 14 per cent of Leicester’s surface area is council-managed grassland. That includes parks, public squares, roadside verges, grassed areas of housing estates, meadows and nature areas.

In total, Leicester City Council manages 1,030 hectares of grassland – the equivalent of around 2,500 football pitches. Over ten per cent of this is designated as pollination sites and seeded with wildflowers.

Under the new plans, different methods and maintenance and mowing will be used to improve biodiversity and optimise the potential for carbon storage, while still ensuring that the number of times grass is cut is appropriate to each setting.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on climate, economy and culture, said: “Our new grassland strategy reflects a growing recognition of the value of urban green spaces and the contribution they can make to the city’s biodiversity and our response to the climate emergency.

“It is an innovative approach and I want to congratulate everyone that worked on the new strategy and that helps maintain our city’s vast urban grassland for this well-deserved award.

“We hope people will realise that when they do see areas of longer grass on our parks and verges, this an intentional change that will support the city’s wildlife and contribute to our net zero carbon and biodiversity goals.”

The Keep Britain Tidy Network Conference and Awards is dedicated to recognising and promoting excellence in local environmental initiatives and brings together more than 150 influential decision-makers from local authorities across England.

Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “Our Network Awards celebrate the most innovative campaigns and solutions developed by local authorities to tackle issues like litter, fly-tipping and dog fouling, often with the communities they serve.

“Our hope is that these fantastic initiatives will inspire others across the country to do the same.”

To find out more about the grassland strategy visit www.leicester.gov.uk/content/grassland-strategy-2023-2033