The value of caring for churchyard wildlife

Primroses, Llanfrechfa (R Price)Primroses, Llanfrechfa (R Price)

Churchyards - important havens for wildlife and heritage

Churchyards provide important homes to a variety of wildlife great and small. They are beautiful, tranquil places for thought and reflection. Often they support species-rich grassland, particularly old meadow land with many wildflowers; a habitat which has sadly dramatically decreased in the wider landscape in the past 60 years. Other wildlife can include ancient trees, lichens and mosses on stonework, birds, butterflies and insects, amphibians and reptiles as well as bats.

The historic interest of churchyards including monuments, preaching crosses, memorials and lych gates is of equal interest and importance.

St Illtyd's Churchyard (R Price)














Managing with sympathy for wildlife

A churchyard managed with sympathy for wildlife can look well cared for and be attractive to visitors, as well as plants and animals. They often provide the potential for encouraging more wildlife, as well as bringing in local people to enjoy the churchyard’s beauty and join in helping to care for it.

Yet to ensure a sensitive approach to both the interests of people and visitors to the churchyard, as well as its wildlife, a number of things need to be considered before any changes are made. These will help you to put together a churchyard management plan. It’s helpful to bear in mind the following:

  • The churchyard should be attractive to both people and wildlife & should present a cared for appearance
  • There should be easy access to church building & tended graves
  • Any wildflower areas or tall grassland areas for wildlife should be carefully chosen after a species survey and the feasibility of management methods considered.

It’s important to remember that nurturing your churchyard’s wildlife often means careful, sensitive management rather than an absence of management.


Photos: waxcap fungi, gravestones at St Illtyds (R Price)