New wildflower grassland team arrives in the Cotswolds

Photo: @ShortTitle@

The national conservation project - Save Our Magnificent Meadows - continues apace in the Cotswolds with the arrival of two new members of staff at the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

Eleanor Reast and Katherine Holmes have joined the Board as Conservation Officer and Community Engagement Officer, forming the dedicated Cotswolds team for this £3 million project. Save Our Magnificent Meadows is funded primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and is led by Plantlife.

Eleanor has worked for the RSPB in many roles ranging from community engagement, through to bird monitoring and advising farmers on suitable habitat management for birds. She has lived all over the UK, from the Lizard in Cornwall up to the Cairngorms in Scotland but is pleased to return to her home turf in the Cotswolds. Prior to this role she was working as Community Scientist for the Open Air Laboratories project at Imperial College in London. Her role was to enthuse community groups, schools and the general public about their local environment through training sessions and events.

Katherine currently lives in Charlbury, having relocated from her original home in Worcestershire. Since the completion of her Masters degree in Applied Ecology and Conservation, Katherine has worked in the field of ecology and nature conservation for over five years, helping the local community to restore a lowland heathland Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and carrying out wildlife surveys and ecological assessments for an ecological consultancy in Oxfordshire.

The Cotswolds element of the project is focused on the restoration of flower-rich limestone grasslands in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) along the Cotswold scarp and river valleys over the next three years. With the new team in place, work will get underway to deliver the project in the Cotswolds which will include recruiting and training grassland volunteers and champions, organising a series of events, open days and guided walks for the public, undertake species surveys and restoring up to 1,125 hectares of wildflower grassland across the Cotswolds.

There were once natural wildflower meadows in every parish – today only 2% of the meadows that existed in the 1930's remain. Nearly 7.5 million acres of wildflower meadow have been lost so far across the UK, and they are still being destroyed.

Notes to editors:

  • Save Our Magnificent Meadows is:
    • Targeting just under 6,000 hectares of wildflower meadows and grasslands in nine strategic landscapes across the UK, including the Cotswolds AONB.
    • Giving people all over the UK the chance to visit, enjoy and learn about our wildflower meadows and grasslands.
    • Raising awareness of the desperate plight of our wildflower meadows and grasslands and equipping communities with the knowledge and skills to reverse this devastating trend.
  • The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) contains a nationally significant proportion (over 50%) of the UK’s total Jurassic unimproved limestone grassland.
  • This type of grassland is home to a large number of rare and declining plants including many species of orchid and other flowers including Pasque Flower and Cotswold Pennycress. Cotswold grassland also supports nationally rare butterflies such as the Chalkhill Blue and the Duke of Burgundy.
  • Wildflower grassland was created by human activity and has developed since early farmers cleared forested areas to make grazing land for their livestock. In the 1930s 40% of the Cotswolds was covered in Jurassic limestone grassland, today that has fallen to less than 1.5% (7,413 acres).
  • The Cotswolds was designated an AONB in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape.
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members - 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
  • Over 300 Cotswold Voluntary Wardens dedicate thousands of hours of practical conservation work every year across the AONB, as well as lead an annual programme of guided walks and undertake a range of promotional and educational work.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit: For details of the 15 National Parks in England and Wales visit:
  • Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 36,000 projects with £6bn across the UK.