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Plantlife has secured funding which could help restore 500 hectares of species-rich grassland over the next 15 years.
Our Meadow Makers project continued to pick up pace during 2022/23 when we identified more than 110 hectares of land suitable for grassland restoration or creation.
We used money from National Highways’ Environment and Wellbeing Designated Fund to start assessing the feasibility of reinstating species-rich grasslands at various sites. A total of 111 hectares were identified during the first survey in summer 2022, with further work due to take place 12 months’ later.
It is hoped the project will spearhead the restoration of 500 hectares of grassland at 100 sites over 15 years. It will also support National Highways’ ambition for no net loss of biodiversity from its strategic road network by 2025.
The funding has already helped us engage with a wide network of landowners. This has included environmental organisations and farmers, both in the public and private sectors. We are delighted to have been able to offer them an attractive package of support, including a UKHab survey. This assesses the current condition of their land and highlights the potential for improvement over the next 15 years. We have also written long-term management plans for each site and will offer support and monitoring.
Much of this work has taken place at sites across Dartmoor, which is helping to strengthen its ecological connectivity.
Focusing on this area has also allowed us to build on the successful relationships we formed during 2021/22, when the Meadow Makers project saw us create and restore grasslands and provide training and advice. The initiative also gave us a valuable opportunity to raise awareness of the role these important habitats play in mitigating climate change.
At the end of 2022/23, we submitted a further bid to secure the necessary funding to begin restoring and creating these habitats in the coming 12 months. But our ambitions don’t stop there. In addition to restoring rich and diverse grassland, our long-term aim is to work more closely with engaged landowners.
By continuing to inspire them, answering their questions and carrying out surveys, we hope to identify and capitalise on new opportunities for species recovery to boost biodiversity long into the future.
It has been another successful year for our dedicated volunteers who are helping to monitor plant populations in the Brecks.
The dedication of hundreds of National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) volunteers across the UK is continuing to support research into the health of our habitats.
We have enhanced habitats at Greena Moor, our culm grassland nature reserve in north Cornwall, for the benefit of three critical species.