The Reverend Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich, wants church graveyards – perhaps it is better to call them ‘churchyards’ because the whole space around the church applies in this instance – to become places where wildlife can thrive and to improve Britain’s biodiversity.
The bishop said that parishes will be asked to allow grass and wildflowers to grow around older graves while ensuring newer ones remain well tended.
[We want] to look at how the biodiversity of this often very ancient land can be enhanced. My dream is that churchyards will be places of the living not just the dead.
The Church of England’s General Synod in London is to receive a document which notes the significance of church graveyards as primarily burial grounds and therefore any increased biodiversity and encouragement for wildlife to flourish within them needs to be balanced against the consideration for mourners visiting them.
However, the Reverend Usher said that the plans would “not at all impact people visiting their loved ones. Many mourners rather love the fact that they can hear birdsong or see butterflies or insects flying around in a churchyard. It brings them solace at times of grief.”
A motion is being put to the Synod asking to bring biodiversity to the agenda for discussion and to enhance the Church of England’s overall environment programme.
Comment: I thoroughly agree. And I think that the Reverend is absolutely correct when he says that more wildlife in churchyards will enhance them and not in any way be detrimental or disrespectful. One must of course respect mourners and the dead but I would hope this program can be taken through to practical changes on the ground.
My thanks to The Times newspaper today, Jan 12th 2024.