Making hay while the sun shines - cash boost for vital meadow restoration

Tuesday 29th July 2014

Marbled White: Steven Williams

Avon Wildlife Trust and Nailsea Environment and Wildlife Trust are making hay while the sun shines this summer in a bid to restore precious wildflower meadows in Avon.

One year ago, HRH The Prince of Wales launched Coronation Meadows at his own meadow at Highgrove House. The second stage of this remarkable nationwide project, which aims to create new wildflower meadows across the UK, is starting this summer. 27 meadows will be restored across the country, supported by generous funding from Biffa Award.

Moorend Spout Nature Reserve in Nailsea will receive wildflower seed from the county’s Coronation Meadow - the Trust's Netcott's Meadow Nature Reserve.

Netcott's Meadow will be cut for hay which will enable wildflowers, including oxeye daisy, betony, orchids and yellow rattle to thrive next year. This work is reliant on a spell of good weather and this summer has been perfect for hay-making.

The green hay harvested from Netcott's Meadow will be strewn on Moorend Spout by volunteers from both Avon Wildlife Trust and Nailsea Environment and Wildlife Trust. Avon Wildlife Trust hopes to see meadow vetchling, knapweed, twayblade and green winged orchids grow, which will see butterflies and dragonflies arrive too.

Once the hay is strewn at Moorend Spout, the site will be rolled to bed the seed in. Next year, it will be cut in late-summer and grazed with sheep or cattle. To bolster the effort, 1000 plug plants will be planted at the site - that will be grown by two of Avon Wildlife Trust's community projects Feed Bristol and Feed Folly - over the next two years.

Joe Middleton, Reserve Manager at Avon Wildlife Trust who recently visited HRH Prince Charles to talk about the project said: “Projects like this are vital as they enable us to help nature’s recovery and inspire people to make a connection with the natural world.

Meadows form a vital part of our Living Landscape and are now nationally scarce. Through this support from Biffa Award, we will be able to create and restore some of the best examples of flower-rich meadows across the UK, creating a lasting legacy for the next 60 years.”

Coronation Meadows Project Manager, Dan Merrett, said: “The Coronation Meadows represent the crown jewels of our few remaining wildflower-rich fields. 

In launching the project His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales set the challenge to mark the 60th Anniversary of The Queen’s coronation by stimulating a new mood to value our remaining meadows and use their seed to restore and create new meadows. The work today is a significant step in the concerted effort of organisations and individuals across the UK to fulfil His Royal Highness’s vision at sites with the sound management and secure future necessary to ensure that a classic British landscape, vital for so much of our wildlife, isn’t consigned to the history books.”

Tom Beeston, Chief Executive of RBST, adds: “Our native breeds were bred to utilise flower rich grasslands. Habitats such as flower-rich meadows are dependent on grazing to create the varied sward structure essential to some of our rarest plants and ground nesting birds such as lapwing and snipe. Horseshoe bats for example depend on grazed pasture and meadows in which to forage for insects. Many conservation organisations now use native breed livestock for grazing on wildlife sites, thus not only maintaining wildlife biodiversity but also that of farm animals.”