Church Commissioners’ Written Answer: Churchyard Biodiversity

Caroline SpelmanOn 10th January 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Mark Hendrick MP about churchyard biodiversity in the Diocese of Blackburn:

Mr Mark Hendrick (Preston) To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, (a) what steps the Diocese of Blackburn has taken to work with Caring for God’s Acre to map flora and fauna on its Estate, (b) which churches in the Diocese of Blackburn have recorded flora and fauna in churchyards, (c) what notable finds of flora and fauna have been recorded and (d) what plans the Diocese of Blackburn has to take part in the Cherishing Churchyards Week from 3 June to 11 June 2017.

Dame Caroline Spelman:

(a): The Blackburn Diocese Environment Group are currently in the process of deciding what the future role of the Diocesan Environmental Project Officer will look like. The Diocese of Blackburn has discussed working with ‘Caring for God’s Acre’ and with the current limited resources, the Diocesan Environment Group hopes to undertake a ‘Living Churchyards’ scheme. They are currently exploring the potential of partnership with the local Wildlife Trust and any project will need funding or sponsorship to get underway. The Diocese of Blackburn is fully committed to supporting enquiries into parish energy consumption and to the international ‘Just Water’ campaign.

(b) & (c): The Diocese does not hold central records of which Churches have recorded notable flora and fauna in their churchyards. This is more likely to be held locally within parishes, the local Wildlife Trusts and Natural England. If funding can be found for the ‘Living Churchyards’ project a more strategic plan can be produced.

(d): The Blackburn Diocese Environment Group plans to encourage individual parishes that have the capacity to participate in Cherishing Churchyards 2017, and hopes to take a more coordinated approach in 2018. Across the Blackburn Diocese work is often undertaken in partnership and so the Diocese would want any project to also involve the land of other faith communities.

(From )


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