Caring For God's Acre > About Caring for God’s Acre > Projects > Biodiversity Hotspots across Wales Project

Biodiversity Hotspots across Wales Project

Prosiect Llecynnau Pwysig i Fioamrywiaeth ledled Cymru
Funder: Natural Resources Wales
Project Duration – October 2020 to March 2023
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Are you involved in looking after a churchyard or burial ground?

Does the sound of having a 3 year plan that is realistic for your resources and appropriate for your site sound appealing?

Would you like more support in making the right management decisions?

Are you in any of these five counties – Wrexham, Flintshire, Denbighshire, Ceredigion or Powys?

If so, we may be able to help…..

A little background

A churchyard or burial site may be the most ancient enclosed piece of land in a parish, town or city. The grassland will have been relatively undisturbed, re-seeding naturally for hundreds if not thousands of years. It will also have been both mown for hay and grazed by animals during its time as a burial ground. A benefit of this continuity of management over a very long time is a rich diversity of grasses, flowers and animals.

This old, relatively undisturbed or ‘unimproved’ grassland is now rare in the UK. Since the 1940s over 97% of flower-rich grassland, that was once widespread in the countryside, has vanished. The ancient grassland found in old burial grounds is a relic of that once common habitat and these sites have become the Noah’s Ark for many species.

The issues

There are hundreds of burial grounds in the areas this project covers. Each is nestled in the heart of communities – both emotionally and geographically. Although sites are diverse – ranging from small rural church and chapel yards to large urban cemeteries, they have important ecological features in common: 

  • Nearly all contain species rich semi-natural grassland;
  • For most areas this fragment is the only remnant of semi-natural grassland found within the locality; 
  • They provide refuge for many species but many sites are suffering from under management and the loss of biodiversity is taking place;  
  • Most sites have ancient and veteran yews that need care;
  • Invasive non-native species, such as Japanese knotweed, are an increasing issue.
How the project can help

The purpose of this project is to work with groups managing burial grounds across selected areas of Wales to help preserve and enhance their flower rich grassland and engage the wider community. Thanks to support from Natural Resources Wales we are able to offer a range of free services to burial ground managers.

Groups involved will be able to:

  1. Receive free training on a variety of topics such as grassland management, involving the community, species surveying, looking after veteran trees, writing a management brief;
  2. Have a grassland survey undertaken of your burial ground (limited number of places for this!);
  3. Enjoy a supportive network of peer to peer support with input from specialists;
  4. Have access to our new improved advice materials;
  5. Have a base map of your site to help you create your own Management Brief;
  6. Receive support in writing a Management Brief for your site. Management Briefs can help you plan your management so it is appropriate for your site and realistic for your resources. Briefs can really help when making an application to funding bodies too!
  7. Receive advice on your ancient/veteran trees (our resources for this will concentrate in Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire)
  8. Have your site showcased as a best practice site or case studies for others to be inspired by and learn from.
For more information or to register an interest, contact Mick Clifton, Project Manager at, phone 01691 780733.
Upcoming webinars for the Hotspots project...
March-June 2021
What’s special about burial grounds?

This webinar will be a virtual saunter discovering the wonders to be found in these unique places – from ancient yews and rare flowers, to lichen covered memorials and churchyard crosses.

The Five Steps   

Would creating a roadmap for the management of your burial ground be useful to you? If so this workshop will cover the five steps to planning the management of your site and encouraging others to be involved – helping you to be proactive rather than responding to problems and overdue tasks. Learn how to produce a plan that is suitable for your site and realistic for your resources.
There will be plenty of time for questions at the end.

Blooming and Beautiful   

Since 1945 97% of flower rich grassland – once widespread in the countryside – has vanished. Many burial grounds act as havens for this and the associated animals that live amongst the grassland. Broadly speaking burial sites dating pre 1945 are likely to have a rich variety of plants and just need the right management to help it to flower in all its glory. Explore how to manage grassland in burial grounds in a way that encourages wildflowers whilst being sensitive to visitors’ needs. There will be plenty of time for questions at the end.

Involving the Community

Top tips and ideas for engaging the wider community in your site – from family events to regular work parties. Case studies will be covered in this workshop. There will be plenty of time for discussion and to share experiences at the end.

Surveying the plants in your burial ground

You don’t need to be a botanist to make a great start in recording the plants in your burial ground and finding out what they tell you about the management your site needs. Join us to learn how to get started and how we can help.

Caring for your ancient and veteran trees

Find out how to care for your ancient trees. This webinar will particularly focus on Yew trees – Welsh burial grounds are the Noah’s ark for ancient yews on a world scale!

burial grounds