Last year I moved from my home in Tywardreath, on the south Cornish coast to live in Shaftesbury, North Dorset. I love my new home in Dorset, but of course there are things I miss about living in Cornwall, including the beautiful churchyard in Tywardreath. The church of St Andrew the Apostle is involved in Cornwall's wonderful Living Churchyards Project and has consequently become a haven for local wildlife. There is a sign in the churchyard explaining exactly why the grass and wild flowers are left to grow till the autumn, just in case anyone might think the space has been neglected.
As well as trees, grasses, wildflowers, small mammals, birds, frogs and insects, this churchyard is also home to hedgehogs and, at certain times of the year, provides an abundant feeding ground and evening roost for the lesser horseshoe bat.
Until this week that is.
For reasons known only to themselves, it seems that CORMAC who are contracted by the council to maintain churchyards in Cornwall, have chosen the month of June to obliterate this habitat in its entirety with their strimmers and mowers. Not only have they cut down every last blade of grass and wild flower, but their blades have massacred and mangled every living creature unfortunate enough not to have escaped in time from this wildlife sanctuary…. including, I'm told, fledgling birds, frogs and four hedgehogs.
One of the saddest things about this is the cruel irony that these creatures were attracted to the churchyard because of the wonderful way it has been managed…. only to be cut down and killed by mowers at the most abundant time of the year and at the peak of their breeding season.
My friend, Daniel, posted photographs of the damage yesterday on Facebook, along with this heart rending post…
Our living churchyard here in Tywardreath destroyed by Cormac ! they strimmed around the signs that state no cutting back will be done until Autumn ! they drove their big mowers over the graves damaging them , Four dead hedgehogs were found mangled by the machinery along with several fledgling birds , frogs , all the wild flowers are gone along with all the bees , butterflies and other abundant pollinators that were there, which were a food source for all our nesting swifts and birds in the village and not to mention the food source for the rare bat species that we were blessed with there ! Angry is not the word !!!! :( absolutely livid !
It is of course too late now for the hedgehogs, birds, frogs, bees, butterflies etc who have been wiped out by this act of vandalism, but hopefully someone will be held to account and lessons will be learned so that it doesn't happen again. My understanding is that there is evidence here for a prosecution under the Wildlife & Countryside Act.
P.S Since I wrote this blog, Cormac have stated on their twitter feed that their team 'cleared wildlife and frogs before.' They have also posted the following statement on their Facebook page……
"In response to the concerns at Tywardreath Churchyard the matter is being looked into by our Area Manager. However we can confirm that we did take measures prior to any grass trimming to ensure that as far as reasonably possible no wildlife would be harmed.
The dead hedgehog was found on site before any of our works took place.
If our Area Manager identifies any areas for improvement then appropriate measures will be taken.
We are sorry to hear of the concerns but can assure residents that the matter will be followed up as necessary."
If you have a Facebook account you can find Daniel's post and more photos here….. https://www.facebook.com/danielgrant.villa/media_set?set=a.10152790254321441&type=1