This project will aim to create seven hectares of species rich grassland across five farms in the county. The areas will range in size from one to two hectares in size in each location. These areas currently have little wildlife value and together will help to form stepping stones in the landscape for bees and butterflies that are threatened with extinction. The project has been developed at a landscape scale, identifying farms where additional habitat would help not only local pollinator populations, but also support wider species movement across the landscape.
In the UK there used to be wild flower meadows in every parish – today we’ve lost 98% of the meadows that existed in the 1930s and the species that are associated with them are some of the rarest in the UK. Nearly 7.5 million acres of wildflower meadow have been lost so far and they are still being destroyed. Meadows and species-rich grasslands can support a huge range of wildlife including wildflowers, fungi, bees, flies, beetles, spiders, moths, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, bats and birds.
Species-rich grasslands also provide other environmental benefits including carbon storage and preventing soil erosion. These meadows are important for healthy soils, healthy livestock, healthy people and healthy ecosystems. As their management is less intense the meadows are cut less often. This additional vegetation growth also helps to support natural flood management and aids water quality improvement by slowing the flow of water in the landscape (as the longer vegetation creates more friction which slows the movement of water, and longer vegetation itself retains more water for longer).
Ian Jelley, Director of Living Landscapes at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said:
“We are delighted to secure this grant from Severn Trent. The funding provides a real boost for nature on our doorstep. Wildflower meadows are now some of the rarest wildlife habitats in our area, home to a range of species threatened with extinction. The idea for the project came from the farmers themselves who wanted to do more for wildlife on their farms. Severn Trent have provided the financial support and we’re now going to support the farmers to create new magnificent meadows. This project is the latest example of how Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is working in partnership with farmers to help put nature into recovery and bring our wildlife back. We hope that this can serve as inspiration for other farmers who have a vital role to play in nature’s recovery."
Graham Osborn, Principal Ecologist at Severn Trent said:
“This project is the perfect example of what our Boost for Biodiversity grant scheme is all about. These ambitious plans represent a big step towards improving biodiversity across the county.
“The environmental benefits of wildflower meadows are many, but their positive impact on water quality and reducing the risk and impact of flooding in particular, will help us in a big way. ”
Graham added: “There are other advantages too. These meadows provide good soil structure, which helps to prevent soil erosion, nutrient run-off and even help support carbon capture.”