Saturday, 4 February 2017

Caring for God’s Acre: biological recording in burial grounds

The churchyard, St. Mary's, Whitton, Shropshire
In this guest blogpost, Andrea from the national charity Caring for God’s Acre tells us more about plans for a new project to to encourage and support biological recording in burial grounds. 

If you've ever botanised in a churchyard or green burial ground, you will know that, when sensitively managed, such sites can support many species. Over to Andrea to tell us more: 
   
"Caring for God’s Acre is the national charity dedicated to conservation within burial grounds. We encourage and support communities to protect and enhance the wildlife value of these unique sites and also to preserve the built environment within them.

Westall Park Green Burial Ground
"There are about 20,000 burial sites within the UK ranging from quarter of an acre to over 140 acres. They are more valuable for biodiversity than their size suggests due to their longevity and continuity of management. The oldest sites may have been enclosed for over a thousand years and most have never been exposed to either intensive management or widespread chemical use.  

The Beautiful Burial Ground Project 

St. John the Baptist Church,
Hope Bagot, Shropshire
"We have been working in burial grounds for nearly 20 years and feel the need to address a large issue. Burial grounds are surprisingly under-recorded and even when they are surveyed, records usually go into national systems that are not site specific. 

"This means that the managers of these sites rarely have access to species data that could inform their decisions and help them interpret the importance of the site to the wider community.

"We plan to address this by literally putting burial grounds on the map. We plan to create a bespoke database and work with NBN on an interactive map where:
  • individual burial sites can be located,
  • records can be linked to a particular site,
  • information is validated and easily accessed by all.
Longden Rd. Cemetery, Shrewsbury: designated
 a Local Wildlife Site after local recording
groups undertook surveys in 2016
"Funded training sessions and travel expenses for recorders, initiatives such as ‘the Year of the Burial Ground’ and guides to existing identification resources are just some of the ideas within our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

"We have passed the first stage of the application process and would value your input in order to shape the project as it develops.

"If you have 2 minutes to spare, we would love to hear your views."

Many thanks to Andrea for telling us more about this new project. You can also email or phone her on 01588 673041 if you have ideas or would like more information about the Beautiful Burial Ground Project.