As the nation gets competitive in the kitchen we launched our own outdoor version– the Great British Rake Off - to help make our cycle routes more wildlife-friendly.
In Manchester, Birmingham, Cumbria and Yorkshire teams of people competed to rake the most area of cut grass along cycle routes. There were also games for all ages to try out spotting nature along the traffic-free path, including ‘biodiversity bingo’ and simple wildlife surveys.
Rake-off events were all held on the National Cycle Network, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. We are working to monitor wildlife and improve habitats across traffic-free sections of the National Cycle Network.
When grass is cut and left, it rots down, enriching the soil and smothering wildflowers, but raking cut grassland areas helps to allow wildflower meadows to develop and creates habitats for butterflies and bees.
Sustrans ecologist Bernie Higgins said:
“We’ve brought a very British tradition out of the kitchen and onto our cycle paths! The Great British Rake off was a great chance to get competitive with your rake, win prizes and do some good for nature in the process.”
Traffic-free cycle and walking routes which have trees, hedges and grasslands can be great highways for nature as well as people. Animals such as badgers or voles need green spaces to forage and create their homes, while bats and birds use the corridors of trees found along cycle routes to navigate and nest.
We need volunteer wildlife champions to help record wildlife along the path and manage habitats such as grasslands and hedgerows for nature.