Wildflower power of new meadow-makers in Devon

Over 100 acres of wildflower-rich meadows are to be restored across Devon this summer on 17 landholdings stretching from the upper Tamar to the lower Dart.

Wild plant conservation charity Plantlife and wildflower conservation community group Moor Meadows Dartmoor have been able to team up on meadow restoration this year thanks to funding from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

Plantlife’s Meadow Makers project sees the charity working with several partners across England to achieve the ambitious target of restoring more than 1,200 acres of wildflower meadows this year, with Devon one of the focal areas. A Moor Meadows Dartmoor member survey last year asked members what more they could do for wildflowers and wildlife if they had additional resources.

Results showed that several members wanted to convert more areas of grassland currently with few wildflower species into species-rich meadows, to benefit wildlife, but they needed some support. Those candidates, and the wild plants and creatures that will thrive on their restored meadows, are the ideal beneficiaries of the new Meadow Makers project.

Moor Meadows member Mark Walker, whose field at Ermington in South Devon will be transformed into a wildflower meadow, said: “Encouraging biodiversity by creating a network of pesticide-free areas for wild flowers, insects and other animals is, I believe, important for our survival as a species.”

Moor Meadows Dartmoor co-founder, Donna Cox of Buckfastleigh, said: “This wonderful project supports the creation of more wildflower-rich meadows, a vital wildlife habitat that has virtually disappeared from our countryside. Most of the wildflower seed for the project is being provided by other members with species-rich meadows.”

Converting Dartmoor fields and paddocks with few wildflower species into colourfully-blooming havens for wildlife will be the task of Matt Pitts, Plantlife’s Meadow Adviser. He said: “It’s exciting to see people’s enthusiasm in Devon for doing something tangible for wildflowers by making positive changes on their land.

‘I’ve already been working for a couple of years with the Duchy of Cornwall to start meadow creation on tenant farms on Dartmoor, as part of the Prince of Wales’ ambition to have a wildflower meadow on each Duchy farm. There was so much enthusiasm for creating more meadows from the Moor Meadows group that getting involved with them was the next logical step for wildflower conservation in Devon.”

Annemarie Morris, who hopes to see her pastures near Germansweek in West Devon restored to wildflower-rich meadows, said: “This project has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to kickstart meadow restoration on our land. I used to think plain green fields were pleasant to look at without realising how much they were lacking. Being involved has given me the opportunity to learn about the importance for wildlife of meadow restoration and to implement long term change to help restore our natural environment.”

In the South Hams at Littlehempston, Sarah Jane Williamson, Chief Executive of The Mare and Foal Sanctuary said: “We are delighted that being part of the Meadow-Makers project will enable us to restore some of our hay meadows as part of our sustainable grazing and biodiversity approach.”

This project is funded by Defra’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The National Lottery Heritage Fund deliver the fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Forestry Commission. The increasing numbers of landowners and gardeners with a desire to create or restore wildflower meadows on their land led Moor Meadows Dartmoor to launch the online Meadow-Makers’ Forum earlier this year. The forum is a place for practical advice and support for both established and new meadow-makers and can be found at https://forum.moremeadows.org.uk/.

Meadow Adviser Matt Pitts is Plantlife’s meadows specialist, advising landowners up and down the country. Earlier this year he gave a talk entitled, ‘How to Create a Meadow’ as part of a series of Moor Meadows Dartmoor online events. A video of this talk is available to view on the ‘News and Events’ page of the ‘Meadow-Makers’ forum.

Author: Laura White

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