The THRIVING partnership between community groups of wildlife heroes and a West Devon council has been recognised by a county-wide award.

Tavistock Town Council has been awarded a Devon Local Nature Partnership award at the Wildlife Community of the Year Awards, for its achievements while working with Tavistock Community Gardening to change working practices and work more productively together.

The town has an evolving strategy to manage open spaces and natural habitats in an environmentally friendly way that is sustainable and increases diversity.

Major projects within the strategy include the canal bank, cemetery burial ground and riverside which are backed up by the public street planters and hanging baskets and planned bus stop living rooves.

Ursula Mann, Tavistock town councillor, said: ‘I’m really proud of this award because it demonstrates the way local authorities can work with community voluntary groups in a mutually productive way to achieve our long term strategy, which in this case is a continued ‘greening’ of the town by managing our natural and other open spaces in a way which works to maintain and improve them for wildlife.

‘The community groups have helped shape our policy and ways of working and I’m pleased at how the works team has embraced new ways of working to adopt new ways of managing spaces such as the scything of the grass in the cemetery and working much more closely with the community. For instance Becky Rowe of the works team who went aboe the call of duty supporting the burial ground grass scything working groups during the heatwave.

‘A key consequence of the partnership has been bringing the public along with us. Adopting the approach of the community groups has been a major part of gradually seeing the people of Tavistock understanding that manicured cemeteries and planters and highly organised wild areas are not necessarily good for biodiversity and wildlife.

‘Most people now accept that leaving grass to grow long or plants to die back and go yellow is not a sign of wilful neglect.’

Hilli Mole, lead volunteer of the Plymouth Road Green Burial Ground, helped adopt scything grass as a way of ensuring wildflower seeds seeded and encouraged a diverse wildlife habitat, said: ‘I’m delighted that our work has been recognised. The appreciation that leaving the grass to grow long and only cutting once a year with a scythe, instead of a mower, is good for wildlife, has now been established by the council, the public and the wildlife movement. We only cut back the more invasive plants now. ‘

Hilli helps organise up to 12 people in working groups: ‘This award is good for my motivation and for the other volunteers, who include people who have loved ones in the burial ground. The award shows that to have a long-lasting influence on people, you must start with the grassroots people on the ground.’

Ali Sedgwick, of Tavistock Community Gardening project, said she was delighted to get the award and to have influenced the council.