4.1 Churchyards
The churchyard is one of the most enduring features of the British landscape. The 20,000 churchyards in England and Wales span every possible habitat from sea shore and rocky coastline to grass and heathland, moor and deep wood. Over many centuries these churchyards have established themselves as unofficial nature reserves where an abundance and diversity of indigenous and naturalized wildlife flourishes undisturbed. From over-intensive farming, and industrial and metropolitan encroachment, churchyards have provided a sanctuary for all kinds of flowering plants, shrubs and rare species of ferns, mosses, lichens and fungi. These in their turn support an extraordinary variety and density of animal life –gravestone insects, frogs, toads, shrews and mice. The larger creatures of the countryside, the owls, badgers and deer, have all found a refuge within these ancient enclosures, and despite erosive urbanization, the rare marbled white, adonis blue, and silver studded blue butterflies still eke out a precarious existence in them.