- see some scything and raking by hand!
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, HRH The Prince of Wales 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, led by Plantlife and in partnership with the Wildlife Trusts and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, is working to achieve this goal.
This exciting project has two distinct aims. The first is to identify one flagship wild flower meadow – a Coronation Meadow - in each county. These meadows will be celebrated as the surviving “jewels in the crown”, places where people can enjoy a riot of colour and an abundance of wildlife in settings that have remained largely unchanged since the Coronation.
The second aim is to use these Coronation Meadows as source or ‘donor’ meadows to provide seed for the creation of new meadows at ‘recipient’ sites in the same county. In this way, new Coronation Meadows will be created, increasing the area of this valuable habitat, providing new homes for bees, butterflies and other pollinators and helping to secure our wild flower heritage for the next 60 years and beyond.
Bell Sykes Meadows includes six unimproved flower-rich fields. Three of these are alongside the neighbouring River Hodder and include grasses such as meadow foxtail and sweet vernal grass along with moisture loving flowers like great burnet and meadowsweet. The upper three fields are home to the characteristic flowers of dry hay meadows in northern England. Meadow crane’s-bill and melancholy thistle grow together with a colourful mix of yellow rattle, eyebrights, pignut, buttercups and lady’s mantle. There are also three new meadows on the farm, which received hay from the species-rich ones in August 2012 as part of the Bowland Hay Time project. They already have yellow rattle and eyebright growing in them since the hay was spread.
Bell Sykes Meadows is one of the last unimproved flower-rich grasslands in this part of Lancashire. This vulnerable habitat has become increasingly scarce and has largely been destroyed in Lancashire through agricultural intensification.
For further information visit http://coronationmeadows.org.uk
Please email sarah [dot] robinson [at] lancashire [dot] gov [dot] uk for details of future events.
The Forest of Bowland AONB has joined forces with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) to fund a Hay Time hay meadow restoration project here in Bowland, the project began on May 21st 2012.
Working together with farmers in the AONB, the project will harvest wildflower seed from species-rich meadows and use this to restore meadows that have lost some of their characteristic plants. The project also aims to increase public awareness, enjoyment and understanding of the hay meadows found in the area, and will improve public access to meadows, as well as surveying many meadows to record the variety and number of plant species they contain.
Sarah Robinson, the new Bowland Hay Time Project Officer, is based at the Forest of Bowland AONB’s office in Dunsop Bridge. Sarah said, "Bowland Hay Time is an important and exciting project and I am delighted to be part of it. I’m looking forward to working closely with hay meadow farmers in the AONB who are interested in getting involved with the project, either through having seed harvested from their meadows or through having their meadows enhanced through seed addition."
Hay meadows are one of our rarest habitats and a priority for conservation and enhancement in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Largely lost from the rest of the country, these meadows survive thanks to traditional farming practices, in particular the late cutting of the crop in July or August. During spring and summer the array of colourful flowers and grasses in hay meadows make not only a wonderful sight but create important places for other species such as bats and birds to feed and nest in. The AONB contains a significant number of the UK’s remaining upland hay meadows and as such it is an important area for this stunning habitat. The project will run over the next two years and aims to restore 40 hectares of meadow.
For further information about the project contact Sarah on 01200 448000 or email sarah [dot] robinson [at] lancashire [dot] gov [dot] uk
The project is being funded by the Forest of Bowland AONB and the Lancashire Environment Fund