Church gets eco award for creating wildlife haven

A village church which created a haven for wildlife has been recognised for its efforts.

St Giles in Risby, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, has allowed grass to grow tall in the churchyard to support insects and butterflies, and encouraged swifts to nest, among a plethora of measures to give nature a helping hand.

It is one of only 49 churches in England and Wales to achieve the accolade of a gold eco church award, and the second in the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese.

The church's environmental officer Jackie Orbell: "It's been very much about working with our community; it's been fantastic."

"I thought I would just be pottering around the churchyard and creating habitats but it's so much bigger than that," she added.

The church began with a couple of pots for flowers to grow for pollinators before moving on to create nature trails, scavenger hunts and a contemplation garden.

Those involved in the church then fitted swift boxes and set up a system playing swift calls to encourage the birds to nest and then return to the same spot when they migrate from African each spring.

There is also a bug hotel and a hedgehog house, and a long-term project looking at the flowers growing elsewhere in the village.

The church's survey found most gardens neglected the needs of pollinating insects in autumn and winter, with the church hoping to encourage the planting of a year-round food source.

Eco church is an award scheme run by a Christian charity, encouraging churches to be more environmentally conscious.

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