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Saving our magnificent meadows
Plantlife is leading a nationally-coordinated programme of action to save the UK’s remaining wildflower-rich meadows and grasslands through the Saving Our Magnificent Meadows project.
From the lowland meadows of East Lothian and the grasslands of Fermanagh, to the rush pastures of west Wales and the hillside grasslands of the Cotswolds and North Downs, the Saving Our Magnificent Meadows project - the biggest conservation project in Plantlife’s history - is taking emergency action to prevent their disappearance. The project aims to:
- Save up to 75,000 acres of the most vulnerable habitat (17% of what remains)
- Provide exciting new opportunities for people to the learn about, enjoy and get involved in the UK’s meadow and grassland heritage
- Raise significant public awareness of the plight of meadows and grasslands
The traditional wildflower meadow is in crisis
Wildflower meadows and grasslands are our most diverse yet most threatened habitats. They are rich in wildlife, landscape character, folklore and history, and have been the inspiration for many of our greatest artists, writers and composers. Our meadows and grasslands are as much a part of our heritage as the works of Shakespeare.
- Only 2% of the meadows and grasslands that existed in the 1930s remain
- More than 7 million acres have been lost
Despite all of this, the meadow and grassland fragments that remain are still being ploughed up and destroyed.
These losses have had a catastrophic impact on our beautiful wildflowers and the remarkable diversity of species that depend on them. Iconic species including cowslip, early purple orchid, barn owl, skylark, brown hare, harvest mouse, greater horseshoe bat, adonis blue butterfly and short-haired bumblebee depend on healthy meadow and grassland habitat and have suffered correspondingly dramatic declines.
How did it come to this?
Meadows and grasslands are being destroyed due to land use changes over the past sixty years. Intensive farming has resulted in habitats being ploughed or drained, the traditional forms of grazing needed for healthy meadows and grasslands abandoned, and diverse wildflower-rich vegetation replaced with monocultures of rye grass. The absence of conservation management and continued ploughing threatens the meadows and grasslands that remain.
First phase of the project
The first phase of project work – a one year Development Phase - began in June 2012. Development funding of £145,900 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to help Plantlife and its ten partner organisations progress plans to apply for a full grant in 2013.
The project partnership consists of 11 organisations across the UK:
- Plantlife (leading the project)
- The Conservation Volunteers
- Cotswolds Conservation Board
- East Lothian Council
- Northumberland Wildlife Trust
- North West Kent & Medway Valley Countryside Partnership
- Pori Natur a Threftadaeth (PONT)
- Somerset Wildlife Trust
- Ulster Wildlife Trust
- Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
The project is also supported by Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, Countryside Council for Wales, Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Grasslands Trust.
For further information please contact Vikki Fenner, Development Manager, Saving Our Magnificent Meadows.