More than 300 holiday parks which took part in an ambitious hedgerow conservation project have been praised for creating and managing a wealth of new wildlife habitats.
The scheme was launched in 2017 by botanist David Bellamy and his son Rufus, and involved parks of all sizes belonging to the British Holiday and Home Parks Association.
With the year-long project now complete, an audit has revealed that just over 360 miles of hedges are now flourishing on parks taking part in the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme.
The figure is based on feedback provided from parks by the scheme’s wildlife assessors, and represents a length of greenery stretching from London to Edinburgh.
Professor Bellamy’s green awards are given annually to parks making exceptional efforts to protect the natural world – and each year, an extra challenge is thrown down.
Honey bee conservation has already featured, and was followed in 2017 by the call for parks to plant new hedging and ensure that existing hedges are wildlife friendly.
Rufus Bellamy said he was “genuinely taken by surprise” at the scale of what the assessors found on the 300-plus parks which pledged to take part in the project.
Examples included Silverdale Holiday Park in south Cumbria which planted eight miles of new hedgerows to benefit dormice, hedgehogs, red squirrels, butterflies and birds.
The work took nine months to complete, and brought in a raft of species including hawthorn, hazel, ash and oak, interwoven with climbers such as traveller’s-joy and honeysuckle.
Meanwhile at Tyddyn Isaf Camping and Caravan Park on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, more than 40,000 native trees and shrubs have been planted in the picturesque grounds.
Through this work, it has created an important wildlife corridor on the park which has won the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level since the scheme’s inception in 1997.
Many other parks also emerged as hedgerow heroes during the project, said Rufus:
“Hedgerows are vitally important as they provide food and shelter to many species, including those that need particular help such as dormice and bank voles which use hedges to move around.
“Our assessors also found that the hedges managed by many parks are largely made up of a rich mixture of native plants which, crucially, are left to grow bushy and cut only at the right time..
“This means that wildlife has the chance to enjoy the berries which the hedges produce, and nesting birds are not disturbed – a bonus both for holiday guests and the environment,” added Rufus.
This year’s challenge for parks is to increase even more the volume of pollen-rich wild flowers in their grounds, so providing extra foraging for honey bees and other pollinators.