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The Coronation Meadows project, originally involving over 80 donor meadows and over 90 recipient meadows, pioneered a path to the long-term creation and restoration of wildflower rich grasslands.
With this and other grassland restoration programmes, almost 5,000 hectares have been created and restored in the UK since 2013.
In 2012, Plantlife published Our Vanishing Flora, a report highlighting the loss of wild flowers from individual counties across Great Britain since the Coronation. In his foreword for the report, Plantlife’s Patron at the time, His Majesty King Charles III, called for the creation of new wild flower meadows, at least one in every county, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Coronation.
The Coronation Meadows project involved donor meadows, the best examples of our remaining meadows, and recipient meadows, specially selected grassland sites located in the same county as the donor meadow from which they received seed to form new coronation meadows.
Coronation Meadows are outstanding examples of our remaining meadows, rich in a wealth of flowers and able to be held up as the flagship meadow for the county.
They will typically be semi-natural grasslands resulting from natural regeneration, managed with traditional methods, and full of local character and identity. The meadows were selected by the project technical group having been assessed and verified against the project criteria.
The Coronation Meadows, known as donor meadows, were used to literally ‘seed’ at least one new meadow (termed a recipient site) within that same county. This was usually done by collecting “green hay” from the Coronation Meadow which is then spread onto the receptor site.
Green hay is a term for ordinary hay that has been cut earlier than usual before it has shed seed. By harvesting in this way, more seed is retained within the loose hay bales and more is transferred to the receptor site, increasing the chances of success. It is spread within a few hours of being cut to ensure the seed remains in good condition.
Plantlife has 5 donor meadows, exceptional examples of wildflower meadows brimming with some of our most important grassland species such as orchids, from Cornwall to north Wales.
Since the project start Plantlife’s donor meadows have made a huge impact for wildlife in their counties.
A healthy population of Green-winged Orchids were discovered at Hustrans, a recipient meadow of Plantlife’s Joan’s Hill Farm reserve’s seed in 2013. Recently the new meadows reached the high standard required to become a new county Local Wildlife Site.
The impact of our reserves doesn’t stop at meadows. In north Wales, our Caeau Tan-y-bwlch Coronation Meadow provided the perfect donor seed for road verges near the 2023 Eisteddfod site in Boduan, Gwynedd, alongside Gwaith Powder Nature reserve.
Plantlife’s aim is to restore another 10,000 hectares across the UK by 2030 to give everyone the chance of experiencing the kind of beautiful and wildlife-rich meadows that were once commonplace.
A celebration of our Coronation Meadows for King Charles III
For more information on our grassland meadow maker, and if you think you have land that could be restored into grassland please visit the meadow hub.
The Coronation Meadows Project was led by Plantlife and in partnership with The Wildlife Trusts and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, who worked together to achieve this goal. IT was funded by Biffa.
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