Managing Fife’s grassland
Let's talk...about how we manage our grasslands and landscape. We want your views about how the grassland in your community should be managed.
Why should we change the way we manage our grasslands?
We are proposing to change the way we manage 10% of the grassland maintained by the Council. We want to help breathe new life into some of our grasslands and create more natural landscapes. We can also help meet our targets to cut CO2 emissions by at least 40% compared to the1990 baseline level, by 2030. The CO2 emissions that we could save are equivalent to 1,124 car journeys from Kincardine to St Andrews every year.
We know the UK has lost 97% of its flower-rich grassland over the past 70 years. This has resulted in a drastic decline of around two thirds of pollinating insects. Fife is the most heavily cultivated region in Scotland so we can make a difference and give our wildlife more of a chance by changing the way we manage our urban green spaces, This is a great opportunity to counter act these declines with your involvement and with your local community.
What are the benefits?
If we reduce intensive grass cutting, we can reduce our carbon emissions by 10%. We can provide more diverse spaces where people and communities can connect with nature, improving our health and wellbeing. We can increase biodiversity by creating healthy habitats for birds, insects and small mammals.
How will the grasslands be managed differently?
The seasonal management of the grasslands will change from intensive grass cutting over the summer months to the steps set out below:
- Grass will be allowed to grow throughout the spring and summer
- Wild flowers will emerge and habitats created for wildlife
- The flowers and grass will provide food and shelter for small mammals such as hedgehogs and bats, birds, amphibians and insects
- Paths will be cut through the grass in suitable places for people to enjoy walking, exercise and nature which improves mental health and quality of life.
- In Sept/Oct the grass will be cut and left for 2-3 weeks to allow the seed to disperse ready for the next year
- The grass will then be lifted and baled to remove it as a source of fertility (wildflowers thrive in less fertile conditions) and to keep the area looking tidy
- The harvested grass will then be used for feeding animals, composting and possible conversion to fuel.
We want to hear your views about changes that could be made in your community.
From 16 November 2020 until 31 December 2020, you can take part in our discussion on the future of maintained grasslands.
The strategy and maps showing our proposals for each town and village can be downloaded from the links below:
You can share your views through the online survey - click on the arrow in the blue box below.
Or you can phone 01592 583469 to request an information pack and feedback form.
A report collating the feedback from Fife’s communities will inform how the new grasslands management proposals will be implemented.
You can also take part in an open discussion on Let's Talk about Our Fife between 16 November and 31 December.
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A - This proposal is to change the management of some grassland areas to create habitats which can support an abundance of wildlife. By leaving the grasslands to grow through the growing season habitats are created and biodiversity is encouraged.
The grasslands are manged in a different way with a less intensive grass cutting regime during the Summer and a programme of cutting and lifting grass in early Autumn. This allows wildflowers to flourish and supports pollinating insects such as bumblebees, butterflies and hoverflies as well as other wildlife including hedgehogs, bats, frogs and toads, and birds.
Sometimes being referred to as ‘rewilding’ or ‘naturalisation’ of areas, these proposals are smaller scale but important to nature conservation which restores an ecosystem, including natural processes, habitats and species.
A - No. the new way of managing the areas of grassland we are discussing will be a cost neutral activity due to the change in operational activity. Any potential reduction in man hours on cutting grass will be targeted to other priority grounds maintenance work. Back To Top
A - Yes, lots of organisations including St Andrews University, St Andrews Botanic Garden, Dundee and Aberdeenshire Councils are taking a similar approach to maintain their grasslands. And several Community organisations and social enterprises are involved in developing new approaches to maintaining their local environments. Back To Top
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A - We appreciate the public's concern about ticks. The apparent increase in incidences of ticks across Scotland, is partly due to milder winters and they can be found anywhere from woodland and moorland to parks and gardens. Most tick bites are harmless because only a small proportion of ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. And if the tick is detected early, it’s very unlikely to transmit the bacteria. Lyme disease can also be treated effectively if detected early.
Nationally, the Scottish Government recognises the physical and mental health benefits of being outdoors and is aiming to get more people outside. Unfortunately, ticks will always be a hazard in the environment and because we can’t remove them, we need to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect ourselves.
Health Protection Scotland and others are working to raise public awareness about Lyme Disease. For information on ticks, how to protect yourself and what to do if bitten go to:
A - Litter will be managed according to our current Street Cleaning procedures. Litter will be removed prior to any grass cutting operations and fly tipping or accumulation of litter will be responded to by local Street Cleansing teams. Back To Top
A - In accordance with current legislation dog owners are responsibility for cleaning-up after their pets. Where serious issues of dog fouling are reported we will ensure that they are investigated by the relevant Council Service. We also hope that by creating wide foot paths through the grass and circulation areas that pet owners will be able to see what their pets are doing and ensure they remove any dog waste. Back To Top
A - We will be looking for alternative uses for the grass collected at the end of the grass cutting season. We are currently researching different ways to convert the grass into a fuel source and identifying opportunities to compost the grass at local sites. The grass could also be reused in Community growing spaces, or the bales could be given away as hay. Back To Top
A -In accordance with DEFRA guidance all notifiable invasive weed species will be managed through our Invasive species management plan. Back To Top
A - The table below outlines the new proposal for grassland management.
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‘cut and collect’ will be the preferred option - this will reduce the fertility and growth of rank grasses. This will allow wildflowers to compete with grass, therefore allowing more wildflowers to flourish creating a botanically diverse meadow. Over time less cutting will be required which will look more attractive and provide good habitat for pollinators.
1 cut and lift per growing season. 50% of area alternate years
A network of access points and pathways will be cut through proposed areas. Consultation on location and width of path network required
14 cuts per growing season
All recognised invasive weed species will be treated as per Service control procedures
Litter and fly tipping will be removed as per current procedures and resource availability
Re-use of grass clippings will be the preferred option where possible.
- Alternative fuel resource
- Baled and removed. Could be used as hay
- Compost – For local use
- Compost – alternative use ( Growing Spaces )
Staff training and awareness
Provide training/awareness for on-site/ground staff regularly and when new staff employed - to ensure that the management of pollinators is understood, promoted and carried out.
Training Programme developed
Promote Fife Council’s activities related to biodiversity.
Raise awareness of the wider importance of biodiversity and Climate Change in schools, community councils, businesses and other stakeholders in our communities.
Provide a sign posting service to the work with our partner organisations e.g. Buglife, Learning through Landscapes, Butterfly Conservation, Friends of the Earth, HedgeLink etc.
A -These new meadow habitats will encourage small mammals, birds and other wildlife. At periods of grass cutting operations we will operate machinery at a cutting height of 100mm to limit disturbance. We will also consider staggering the cutting regime to allow areas where small mammals and insects can find sanctuary over the winter months. We will cut in ways to enable wildlife to escape e.g. starting in the centre and working outwards. Back To Top