Grasslands for insects at Yeovil Country Park

Released On 28th Jun 2023

Grasslands for insects at Yeovil Country Park

Penn Hill is a former historic parkland landscape and much of the land was the garden of Penn House, which is now residential flats.  Penn Hill is managed as part of Yeovil Country Park and whilst the area has been managed for wildlife over the last 20 years, the grassland was still cut regularly, maintaining a close cropped turf.

The management plan for the country park has recently been updated and this gave the rangers a chance to reflect on the management of their sites, with particular refence to wildlife. Countryside Ranger Agi Szego said "We started to look at the country park, in particular Penn Hill with a fresh pair of eyes. The grassland was being cut to amenity standards, and yet it wasn't an area that was particular well used by people. We decided to take a fresh approach and let the grass grow long. Biodiversity globally, and particularly in this country is in steep decline and insects are the basis for all other wildlife to thrive. Long grass & wildflowers provide much needed habitat for a myriad of insects. Penn Hill is now bursting with meadow brown butterflies and large skippers. The insects will help to feed our bat and bird populations, whilst the long grass also offers shelter and nesting habitat for small mammals such as field voles.  We have had a couple of dead bats brought to us recently that have starved to death. When you consider that the smallest of our bat species (the common pipistrelle) needs around 3000 insects per night to eat, you start to understand why we need so many insects."

The diversity of the meadows at Penn Hill will be enhanced with wildflower plug planting and seeding in the autumn, after the grass has been cut and removed to keep nutrients low. This management technique will help to encourage wildflowers to grow and grasses to become less dominant. This management strategy has been used on the meadows at Ninesprings for over 20 years and the first orchid appeared in 2020.


Tags: Ham Hill Country Park, Chard Reservoir Local Nature Reserve, Yeovil Country Park