Into the Meadows, UK

Working with farmers, local communities and other organisations to support the environmental, social and economic well-being of the area the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s main focus is to conserve the physical heritage features making up the landscape of the Dales.

To restore degraded meadows that have lost their wildlife value, provide education about the value of meadows and give people skills to look after them. This area is one of the last UK strongholds for traditionally managed upland hay meadows, and, as one of the scarcest , most threatened habitats in the EU, is a conservation priority. Species-rich meadows may also play a part in tackling climate change, storing twice as much carbon as species-poor meadows.

The project will:

  • implement meadow restoration schemes during the summers of 2012-13, involving sustainable harvesting of meadow seed to spread on at least 60 hectares of nearby prepared degraded meadows.
  • deliver at least 30 meadow themed events for the public and 32 Discovery Days for local schools, including interpreted walks and plant identification workshops

The Update

Two months into the project and YDMT already reported that they have harvested and spread seed on 12 degraded meadows, had 383 people attend 13 public meadow themed events, and 8 schools take part in 17 meadow discovery sessions.
By Sep 2013, 98 hectares of degraded meadow land had been restored, way beyond the 40 hectare target set at the start of the project. A total of 288 people attended a wide range of public events that took place over the summer of 2013, including photowalks, hay meadows and bumblebee events, and craft activities. They also ran a meadow restoration workshop attended by eight participants, and a two-day Learn to scythe course for ten participants. An additional, unplanned output is the production of “An illustrated guide to collecting and propagating seed of hay meadow flowers
In May 2013, 3 schools attended an event which included a range of activities making cakes decorated with bug and flower, planting meadow seeds, and hay time activities. The planted seeds were used for the ‘Yorkshire Dales hay meadow’ show garden designed by Chris Myers for Gardeners World Live at Birmingham. The show garden won a silver gilt award. In July children from 7 schools visited local hay meadows to undertake identification and surveying activities. They also learnt about the importance of species-rich hay meadows as a habitat and how different treatments affect species diversity and composition. In total 211 local school children took part in activities from May – July.  By the time the project was completed, 88 hectares of hay meadows were restored, with wildflower species being reintroduced into them. In addition, public events educated and inspired nearly 950 children and adults on the issue of hay meadows, and a similar number of children were educated during Meadow Discovery Days held in local schools.

Image: Murker Moor