Make a Meadow
The Make a Meadow project aims to help in the creation of new species-rich wildflower meadows.
Wildflower meadows are not only an attractive part of our landscape, they also form a vital food source for pollinating insects and the birds and bats that feed on them. They store more carbon in their soils than other grasslands or arable fields, and they are the last stronghold for some of our rarest flowering plants. Substantial losses of this habitat due to changing agricultural practices means only around 1% of the area present in the 1950s now survives. This project seeks to make these meadows a valuable asset to their owners to help ensure their continued survival.
While traditional meadows are still being lost, the use of wildflower seed mixes has been increasing as some farmers seek to restore meadows, and attractive flowering displays are planned in public open spaces, on roadside verges, solar farms and disused quarries. Seed mixes can work well, but the technique of green hay strewing has been shown to be one of the most effective techniques for restoring species-rich grassland. ‘Green hay’ is hay that is cut and moved to a donor site in the same day without allowing it to dry. This allows most of the seeds in the hay to be moved, and prevents heating of the hay which can kill seeds.
Sourcing the green hay locally will help to protect our remaining meadows and provide ecological and financial benefits within the local area. By charging a premium for species-rich hay the economic viability of farming wildflower-rich meadows can improve.
We're working with Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England and others to establish:
- a fair price for green hay
- a register and online map of local green hay donor and recipient sites
- improved links between meadow owners
- advice and guidance on meadow creation techniques
- links to contractors and local graziers who provide traditional meadow management
- opportunities to find out about grant funding and training events
The project will not only benefit individual landowners, but may help to provide areas of new meadow habitat in the wider countryside, and on a variety of development sites such as quarries, solar farms, and housing developments.
For more information contact Dan Wrench, Natural Environment Team, Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury – Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The project is partly funded through Innovation Funding from Natural England 2015.