The practice of 'rewilding' in an effort to increase the presence of wildflowers is set for an expansion to cover areas throughout Reading.

Reading Borough Council began its rewilding project in Spring 2020, beginning along highway verges and later expanding to other areas in the town.

The project involves reduced and altered mowing and grass cutting, and seed planting from the council's grounds maintenance team - with the stated benefit of creating new, wildlife-rich habitats and 'reversing the decline of biodiversity' in Reading.

Now, the council is expanding the project to cover more than 50 hectares in 58 locations across the town.

Karen Rowland (Labour, Abbey) lead councillor for environmental services said: “This is a really positive story for Reading’s residents, and I’m delighted that what started as a small trial in 2020 has become such a successful, large-scale plan covering over 50 hectares – the equivalent of more than 100 football pitches.

“Despite the relatively small footprint of Reading, we are continuing to look to expand the programme where such efforts are practicable.

“For such an urban and densely populated town like Reading to be able to set aside and cultivate that amount of land to focus on enhancing biodiversity is testimony to the positivity residents have to tackling the climate emergency.

“The amount of dedication put in to understanding the right conditions for rewilding to work in different parts of the borough are well worth it, when we know just how much residents enjoy those efforts.

“We are still learning how to adjust our maintenance routines of these areas to the varied challenges of drought and excessive rain which are becoming increasingly common factors. “However it is fair to say that the project, along with our wildflowers, is blooming, and it is great that residents are engaging so positively with this policy which stands to benefit everyone in the borough.”

Councillors are set to receive a report on the rewilding project at a meeting of its housing, neighbourhoods and leisure committee on Wednesday, July 10.

Members of the committee will be asked to enable the recruitment of a senior technical officer to lead the rewilding project.

Providing a comment, councillor Rob White (Green, Park) leader of the opposition on the council said: "We have a nature crisis in Reading and across the country. One in six species are at risk of extinction in Great Britain.

"Greens have long lobbied for the council to do more on rewilding. We are pleased that a new officer is going to be recruited but unfortunately this year the council missed its rewilding target.

"It had hoped to rewild 2.5 hectares but only managed two hectares. Green councillors will keep up the pressure to tackle the nature crisis."