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Biodiversity in Churchyards

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 12 May 2011

5. What steps the Church Commissioners are taking to encourage churches to develop and foster biodiversity in churchyards. (55125)

The Church of England, through its own environmental campaign “Shrinking the Footprint”, along with Natural England is supporting an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund by the charity Caring for God’s Acre to extend its work encouraging and supporting churchyard biodiversity schemes nationwide.

North Wiltshire has some of the finest and oldest churchyards anywhere in England—one thinks of Malmesbury abbey, St Bartholomew’s in Wootton Basset, St Mary’s in Calne—and dozens of tiny, ancient, hidden churchyards miles from anywhere. What can the Church Commissioners do to encourage greater biodiversity in them while preserving their peaceful, quiet charm?

The Wiltshire living churchyards project has 45 participating churchyards, helped and supported by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Wiltshire Churches Together and Social Responsibility in Wiltshire. As my hon. Friend tells the House, Wiltshire has a unique and rich diversity of landscape, and there are annual seminars at which Wiltshire living churchyards awards certificates for continued wildlife management. The Bishops of Bristol and of Salisbury and the Church locally are determined that churches throughout Wiltshire should be opportunities to celebrate biodiversity.