The model for this comes from the Lincolnshire Wolds project and has been taken up in Kent by the Dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury who are leading its development in conjunction with Kent Wildlife Trust, Mid-Kent Countryside Project, Kent Heritage Tree Project, British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, Kent Bat group, Kent Mammal Group, Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group and other interested parties. The Kent God’s Acre Project (KGAP) aims to provide skill and expertise to help local communities manage their churchyards in various ways viz: *Workshops on wildlife, history, grassland management, site and species surveying, making management plans, and development of community involvement *Offering advice on churchyard maintenance *Support for local community groups setting up a project. *Setting up a `Churchyard mark` to be given for reaching and maintaining a standard.
Our project is at an early stage in Egerton and was inspired by a course run by KGAP in February 2010 but also comes at a time when the realization that the churchyard is an unique habitat, a fantastic community resource which deserves protecting and promoting. The churchyard is primarily a burial ground, but it far more, it is a place of peace, tranquillity and contemplation. It is, even now, the most beautiful area with wonderful trees, grass, hedges, banks, with a dazzling amount of plants and animals living there. The history of the village lives in the headstones and in the walls of our church; it is the story of our community. It is the place that our social and cultural history meets our very precious natural history. It is a treasure.
How best to care for the churchyard is always going to be a difficult issue. It is in any case the responsibility of the Church and the PCC to maintain it to a proper standard. However proper standard means quite different things to different people. Some think it should be totally neat and tidy, others wilder. In reality a compromise has to be reached taking due consideration of everyone’s opinion as well as the obvious environmental concerns. With this in mind we have come up with an Interim Management Plan ( see below), have drawn up a map, have done a very preliminary site and species survey and have started to gather a group of interested and or expert local people. We intend to involve the community in the project in every way possible and will be organizing information and educational material and events, especially in the National Churchyard Week 18-27th June2010.
We are looking for help and advice from anyone locally, if you have anything at all to offer please contact Sarah Widd 756460 or Steve Kirk 756515 ; So botanists, birdwatchers, historians, archeologists, geologists and all the rest please come and join us! We will also need some brawn as well as brains for a working party to scythe the emerging wildflower meadow annually, details to follow.