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Our meadows need YOU!

Meadow near Stalling Busk by Don Gamble (press)

Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust needs your vote to help rescue the last of our iconic wildflower meadows in the Yorkshire Dales.

A public vote will help a Dales-based charity secure £30,000 of vital funding to restore 60 hectares of degrading meadow and inspire people to enjoy this wonderful habitat.  YDMT’s meadow rescue project is one of several projects to be shortlisted by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) to receive funding. Each year EOCA runs two funding rounds in which supporters of the association, its members, and the public vote to choose which project wins financial support. 

The project will study and restore meadows in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Forest of Bowland, measuring the extent, quality, carbon capture and wildlife value of previously restored upland hay meadows. Rarer species such as globeflower and melancholy thistle will also be re-introduced.

Meadows are crucial in addressing biodiversity loss and climate change, and support more than 700 species of wild plants and a rich variety of animal life. However, they are also amongst the rarest and most threatened habitats in the UK, with more than 97% having been lost in the last century.

David Sharrod, YDMT Chief Executive, said: “This loss of wildflower-rich habitats is the most significant reason behind the drastic declines in pollinator populations. Much of our surviving wildflower-rich habitat now exists as just small fragments, leaving populations of invertebrates isolated from each other, separated by intensively managed farmland and by our towns and cities.

“Since 2006, we have led efforts to counter this decline through restoration and better management of species-rich hay meadows. Restoring the wide range of wildflowers to a degraded meadow can take several years, but we have set 800ha on the road to recovery. We have also raised awareness of the losses and threats – as well as the solutions – with the public, land managers, NGOs and policy makers.

“Uptake of government funding for meadow restoration has been slow and relies on individual farmers applying, coordinating seed donor and receptor sites and having extensive knowledge of meadow restoration. Furthermore, many smaller landowners are not eligible for traditional agri-environment schemes. This, coupled with the uncertainty around the new Environment Land Management Scheme, makes meadow restoration a challenge for farmers, even where there is a strong desire to restore the land. This is where our project is different - using our experience of working in partnership with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Forest of Bowland AONB we are able to act now to inspire, train and enable farmers and landowners to take action to save our meadows.”

Meadows support countless species of pollinators including bumblebees, solitary bees, butterflies and moths, as well as other insect life such as grasshoppers and beetles. Nearly 1,400 insect species rely on meadows and this habitat is particularly important for lapwings and curlews, both of which are priority species identified in the Yorkshire Dales Nature Recovery Plan.

David added: “With your support, our project will bring people together through a citizen science project to revisit a representative portion of the 800ha of wildflower meadows we have started to restore since 2006. We will be able to obtain a detailed picture of the state of upland hay meadows in the region.

“We will also provide a host of activities ranging from meadow management and botanical identification training to guided and self-guided walks, inspiring people to support the sustainability of this priority habitat.”

To vote, visit www.bit.ly/meadowrescue

Voting opens on Wednesday 15th March and runs until Wednesday 29th March.

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