Bristol golf course closes half its course due to rare orchid

By Alistair June 21, 2020 09:44 Updated

A golf course in Bristol has closed off nine of its 18 holes following advice from an ecologist, after a rare orchid that had grown during the lockdown was found at the venue.

Half of the course will remain out of bounds until the middle of July.

This comes at a time when, also due to the lockdown, the demand to play golf has never been higher.

The green-winged orchid

A spokesman said ‘the golfers aren’t particularly pleased about it’, although the venue has been praised on social media for prioritising the environment.

The green-winged orchid is assessed as ‘Near Threatened’ in Great Britain and ‘Vulnerable’ in England, existing mostly along the Welsh coastline, but it started to grow at the municipal Ashton Court Golf Course in Bristol during April.

Bristol City Council, which runs the golf course, says it has taken the decision to reduce the number of holes available to play by nine to allow for the plants to seed.

It added that it plans to have all 18 holes back open by July 15 and has asked the public to be patient in the meantime.

A council spokesman said: “Following the closure of golf facilities during the Covid-19 lockdown, maintenance was reduced on the Ashton Court golf course to allow our teams to focus on areas still open to the public.

“As a result, orchids, including the rare green winged orchid, have been able to grow on parts of the course.

“In order to protect these flowers, we have taken the decision to reduce the number of holes available to play from 18 to nine, to follow the advice of our ecologist and in line with the Higher Level Stewardship agreement in place for the rest of the site.

“This will both allow the plants to seed and enhance the environment for pollinators. We currently plan to bring the nine holes back into play on July 15, when the plants will have seeded.

“We would ask the public to be patient and respectful of our staff as they work to make as many services available as possible in a safe way during unprecedented circumstances.”

A ranger told The Sun newspaper: “The golfers aren’t particularly pleased about it, but we have hundreds of orchids that have sprouted up on the fairway.

“The flowers have gone now, but we are keen to make sure the seeds mature so we get more next year.”

One commentator on LinkedIn wrote: “How wonderful and excellent they close those nine holes for this rare orchid. Hat off!”


By Alistair June 21, 2020 09:44 Updated

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