Cumbria park “hedge heroes” scoop rare award
Ground staff at a South Cumbria holiday park have been dubbed “hedgerow heroes” by television botanist David Bellamy – and presented with a very rare accolade.
Silverdale is one of just 15 holiday parks, out of around 3,000 in Britain, to have gained a Special Distinction from Professor Bellamy in his annual conservation awards.
The honour, announced this week, celebrates over eight miles of new hedgerows planted in 2017 by the park’s outdoor staff as part of a major environmental project.
Silverdale’s initiative, said David Bellamy, has gifted Cumbria’s wildlife “a living larder of rich pickings” as well as new breeding habitats for some of our best-loved species.
Dormice, hedgehogs, red squirrels, butterflies and birds, he said, will be among the creatures now thrown a lifeline as hedgerows in the UK continue diminishing in number.
All six parks belonging to the Holgates group received the top gold David Bellamy Conservation Award in this year’s round of green honours for the tourism industry.
But it was Silverdale’s planting of thousands of native shrubs and trees to create an eight-mile wildlife corridor which was the stand-out achievement, said David Bellamy.
The work took nine months to complete, and brought in a raft of species including hawthorn, hazel, ash and oak, interwoven with climbers such as traveller’s-joy and honeysuckle.
Michael Holgate, whose family business last year marked its 60th anniversary, said the importance of hedgerows could never be understated:
“What we see on hedgerows are the nectar-rich blossom in spring and the red berries in autumn – and both, of course, provide valuable food resources for wildlife,” he said.
“But hedgerows also help prevent soil erosion, store carbon to help combat climate change, and help capture pollutants such as agricultural chemicals which run off from fields.
“They are also homes for many birds, animals and insects, and provide vital links across the countryside for wildlife to move about freely which helps keep populations healthy.
“We’re delighted to have joined the small elite of parks with special distinctions, and the award is being dedicated to our hard-working staff who carried out this amazing project,” added Michael.
In addition to its own conservation initiatives, Holgates also works closely bodies such as the RSPB and local red squirrel protection groups to make its parks havens for many protected species.
There is more information about the group’s parks at www.holgates.co.uk