Bursting with colour, seductive scents, the buzz of insects and alive with animals - a wildflower meadow is a jewel in nature’s crown that puts on a spectacular show in summer. So it’s frightening to think that something so precious and vital is in real danger. Since the 1930’s we have lost 97% (nearly 7.5 million acres) of meadows and grasslands and the wildflowers and wildlife associated with them. Every year more and more meadows are lost through neglect, change of land use or development and with them our native wildflowers such as oxeye daisies, snakes head fritillary and bee orchids, to name but a few.
Skylark Meadows in Somerset are an oasis for wildlife in the midst of an intensely farmed landscape. In 1999, locals got together to save the meadow and now it is a haven for the county's wildflowers and wildlife. As the name suggests, skylarks nest on the meadow each year and vetchlings and meadow-saxifrage add colour in the summer months. But many meadows in the UK have not been so lucky and are sadly disappearing.
To reverse this loss, the search is on to find England's most successful “Meadow Makers”. As part of the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project, Plantlife and partners want to celebrate the work of the unsung heroes in our communities and schools who are setting a fantastic example of how to protect our meadow heritage and who are inspiring others to follow suit.
Pippa Rayner, Community Engagement Officer on the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project at Somerset Wildlife Trust comments: ‘Communities all over Somerset have been working on some fantastic meadow projects, with local people coming together to look after or create wildflower meadows in their area. We want to encourage the people behind these spaces to enter the awards, so that their amazing work can be recognised and help to inspire others. Even the smallest meadow space can make a big difference for our wildlife, as well as for our own health and wellbeing.’
Save Our Magnificent Meadows, the UK’s largest partnership project was launched in 2014 and aims to transform the fortunes of vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife, led by Plantlife, the partnership of 11 organisations is working to restore 6,000 hectares of wildflower meadows and grasslands, primarily funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Marian Spain, CEO of Plantlife, says: “Meadows were once a common feature of our countryside throughout the UK. We want to showcase the work of those in our communities and schools, who are showing commitment to the conservation of our last surviving pockets of meadows and are helping to conserve the remaining ones, whether it be on a small parish meadow, road verge, school field, or even a village green, they will be playing a vital role in reversing a lifetime of loss”
Meadow makers will demonstrate:
- Evidence of hard work and commitment to meadow and grassland conservation
- Type of management involved - who helps?
- The inspiration behind their grassland being managed in a certain way
- Ways the area has benefited other people
Entries for ‘Meadow Makers’ are welcome from now to 31 July with the winners for each nation (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) announced in September 2016. For more information and details on how to enter, visit www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk.