Reversing insect decline in Haslemere: Churt Road wildflower verge project

The alarming decline in the UK's insect population has been revealed by the latest 'Bugs Matter' survey. 

Led by Kent Wildlife Trust and Buglife this extensive study, involving nearly 26,500 journeys by volunteer citizen scientists, recorded a 78 per cent decrease in insect splats on vehicle number plates between 2004 and 2023.

Insects play crucial roles in pollinating crops, controlling pests, decomposing waste, and supporting food chains essential for birds, mammals, and other wildlife. Their decline poses a significant threat to ecological systems.

A local wildflower verge initiative spearheaded by the National Trust, Haslemere Town Council, Buglife UK, and the Haslemere Biodiversity Group is trying to fight this decline. The 750m-long wildflower verge along Churt Road will remain uncut until mid-summer, while the edges will be regularly trimmed by Haslemere Town Council to allow residents to use the pathways.

In mid-summer, the entire area will be cut to reduce nutrient levels, followed by seeding with native meadow flowers in September. A biodiversity audit by aLyne Ecology Ltd will establish a baseline for tracking species changes over time.

This verge is part of the Haslemere B-Line, a national network of insect superhighways designed to restore and create wildflower-rich habitats. These efforts aim to benefit insect pollinators, wildlife, and the local community. 

Residents are encouraged to support the cause by creating wildlife-friendly gardens by attracting bees and butterflies, feeding the birds, composting waste, gardening without chemicals, creating a mini meadow and encouraging hedgehog holes.