Churchyard Management

Summer churchyard work party in St James, Alveston

Cherishing Churchyards event at St Peter's, Dunchurch 2018

Putting up a nest box in the churchyard at St Andrew's, Eastern Green

The Diocesan Environment Group supports improving biodiversity in churchyards. However, there can be conflict between those who wish to retain the churchyard as a tidy place of memorial and contemplation and those who wish to encourage wildlife. In response to this, the Diocesan Environment Group, in consultation with the Chancellor and Diocesan authorities have produced a Biodiversity Policy Statement which recognises churchyards as first and foremost spiritual places, places of solace and memorials, but which also have a role in enhancing God's creation. View our Diocesan Biodiversity Statement here.  

In many urban areas the churchyard is the only green area in the community and in rural areas the churchyard can often be the only area of open land that has been untouched by chemical fertilizers or herbicides. Therefore, the variety of plant and animal life in churchyards can be great if they are managed in such a way as to celebrate the diversity of life.  You can find a form to complete a Warwickshire Wildlife Trust survey of the wildlife in your churchyard and submit a report at http://www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/Churches-and-Cemeteries-Survey

To cut mowing fuel costs and create a rich haven for wildlife the DEG advises leaving certain designated areas uncut until later in the year, for example until spring bulbs have died down or until summer flowering species such as orchids or cowslips have flowered and set seed: the DEG advises leaving certain areas of the churchyard to be cut, and grass removed, once in the summer and, if needed, once again in October.  Details of suggested mowing regimes are given on the Caring for God's Acre website.

In 2017 and 2018, a number of churches took part in Cherishing Churchyards Month in June. We plan to repeat this in 2019. See the DEG News page for reports from 2017 and 2018 and for plans for 2019

Click on this link Get Involved, if you would like to find out other ways in which you can help..

In the Diocese of Coventry, the churchyard of St Mary’s in Oldberrow is a perfect example of old unimproved neutral grassland. An annual ‘Wildflower Weekend’ is held at the church to inform visitors of the biodiversity of the churchyard and the churchyard hay cut is often a community event. Seeds from recent hay cuts at Oldberrow have been used to create new areas of biodiverse grassland. 

One of the best examples of Churchyard Management is at St James, Alveston, pictured at the top of the page. They have their Spring Working Party at the end of March, a Churchyards weekend in mid-June, a Summer Working Party at the end of July and an Autumn Working Party in mid-November. The management regime balances the traditional use of a churchyard with its place as a site of biodiversity and these events draw in people from the local community to work together and to celebrate. To learn more about this, see http://www.stjamesalveston.co.uk/churchyard.

Pete Ashton of the Diocesan Environment Group has provided bird boxes free, thanks to the Welcome to our Future charitable trust, for putting up in church yards of churches signed up for Eco Church. This amazingly generous offer is being extended by Pete to all churches in the Diocese. If you would like a birdbox for your church yard, please contact Godfrey.Armitage@covcofe.org.