A NATURE group is urging people to sign its petition to help preserve wildlife.

Wildlife Friendly Otley, is calling for more help to boost its Wildlife Corridor Project which restores areas in and around the town to help native flowers and insects to flourish.

It wants more Otley residents to sign its online petition to ask Leeds City Council, which is responsible for much of the public green spaces, to make changes to grass mowing.

“Otley's wildlife like the rest of the UK is suffering badly”, said a spokesperson. “During the last twenty years since the millennium over 40 percent of our insect population - the foundation of our environment - have been lost, due to habitat damage and destruction and use of chemicals. This has had a serious knock-on effect on wildflowers, as well as birds and small mammals further up the chain.”

The group says that simple changes in mowing can result in enough nectar for ten times more bees and other pollinators. It says an easy way to help restore beleaguered wildlife is to relax mowing on verges and green spaces allowing native wildflowers and insects to flourish.

The Otley nature group says many local institutions and businesses are now joining its Wildlife Corridor Project, and reaping the benefits. "Mohican" cuts, where a swathe of grass is left to re-wild or is sown with wildflower seeds, are rich in native species whilst still allowing people to continue to enjoy their green spaces. Linking them up into wildlife corridors, so that insects can travel and thrive, is an important step in restoring the environment.

“We want Leeds Council to join our project, by relaxing some of their mowing, so that we can link these important habitat swathes and throw our pollinators a lifeline," added the spokesperson. "We are asking people in Otley to help us persuade them by signing the petition on change.org at http://chng.it/CmhBNdsZ2s or on the group’s Facebook page.

Cllr Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles said:“Relaxed mowing has already been introduced across Leeds alongside much of the highway network and within many of our parks and open spaces. This creates improved, more naturalistic habitats for people, insects and wildlife whilst working to absorb rainwater which helps reduce flooding.

“We expect to develop this approach over time, engaging with residents and users to introduce further areas of relaxed mowing as well as seeking to create 50 hectares of new woodland each year through our woodland creation initiative. Further information on this including information on how you can get involved can be found via this link: https://www.theariumleeds.co.uk/woodland-creation

“Officers of the council have been engaging with Wildlife Friendly Otley for some time and have introduced changed mowing regimes in the town with a further meeting arranged with the group before the end of November to discuss potential sites.”