Meadows and grasslands rich in wild flowers such as oxeye daisies, buttercups and myriad orchids, have declined disastrously since the 1930’s – we have lost 97% (nearly 7.5 million acres). More are being lost each year through neglect, conversion to other land use or development. Farmers and landowners are crucial in protecting the remaining precious spaces, and reversing the trend of loss by making more.
The search has begun for the nations’ most successful ‘Meadow Makers’ across Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. We are looking for landowners, smallholders and farmers, who have successfully juggled the challenges of running farm businesses, while conserving wildflower meadows and grasslands.
As part of Save Our Magnificent Meadows, the UK’s largest partnership project transforming the fortunes of vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife, this Award will acknowledge their efforts. 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.
These people are the unsung heroes of the conservation world, setting a fantastic example of how to protect our meadow heritage, and inspiring others to follow suit. Recognising their achievements with this national Award is our opportunity to appreciate and celebrate their commitment to the conservation of the UK’s last surviving meadows. Perhaps they have taken challenging steps to adopt wildlife-friendly management of grassland, or restored wild flowers to a neglected site or protected a threatened meadow. We want to share their stories.
Marian Spain, CEO of Plantlife, says: “This Award is about celebrating the unsung heroes of the conservation world. Meadows were once a common feature of our countryside throughout the UK. The handful that remain are often the result of the care and effort of individuals who have continued the traditional management they need, against all the trends for change in land use and land management. We want to say thank you to them – and to use their work to inspire more people to get involved in reversing a lifetime of loss.
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 2015. For more information and details on how to enter, visit www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk.