Churchyards, cemetaries and burial grounds

Churchyards and other sacred spaces can provide a refuge for wildlife as well as a pleasant, reflective place for people. In a landscape where many habitats have been lost to development or changes in agricultural practices, churchyards can offer an oasis of habitats where once common plants still exist.

A wide range of wildlife can be found in churchyards including bats, birds, insects, reptiles and mammals. The grassland in churchyards is often of particular importance; untouched for many years it can sometimes support a diversity of wildflowers and be an important home for waxcap fungi. Churchyards are also very important for lichens because of the wide range of stone types present in the buildings themselves and the gravestones.

Red waxcap fungi

Our churchyards also provide sanctuary to some of the oldest living things in Britain – veteran yew trees. Indeed, the most significant collection of old trees in Europe is to be found in the churchyards of England and Wales, where approximately 800 yews with an age above 500 years have been recorded.

For more information on ancient yew trees see the Ancient Yew Group website.

For more information on wildlife in churchyards and how to care for it see the Caring for God’s Acre website.

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