Wild orchid numbers treble thanks to flower saving scheme


A scheme which has been running for five years to prevent young orchid flowers from being cut down by lawnmowers has seen their figures treble.

The Conservation team at Essex & Suffolk Water started a pilot scheme five years ago where four-foot canes, painted red at the top, were placed next to orchids found to be growing in the grass at Hanningfield Water Treatment Works (WTW) in Essex and Barsham WTW in Suffolk.

The canes help the grounds maintenance team avoid mowing the grass in that area and cutting down the young plants before they’ve had a chance to flower, in and around June time.

Since the scheme began, the numbers of wild orchids, which bees love, have skyrocketed.

Ashley Pinnock, Conservation Specialist, said: “I suspect we have something like 500-plus orchids across both sites, but there’s so many this year, we initially ran out of canes. I couldn’t do it without the help of my colleague Peter, who works at Barsham Water Treatment Works and helps out in his spare time across several of our sites in Suffolk.

“It goes to show that with slight modifications to the mowing we can help conserve vulnerable species such as orchids. All it takes are a few canes and a bit of time and effort finding and marking the orchids – you do need to have a bit of a trained eye, as they are not in flower until early June.

“We are really pleased with our achievement so far.”

Nature and water go hand-in-hand, and you can find out more about our commitments in this area in our Environment Strategy: www.nwg.co.uk/responsibility/environment/environment-strategy.

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