The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty 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%.
Limestone grassland must be managed to be maintained. Without sensitive grazing grassland areas revert to invasive scrub. A wide range of organisations within the Cotswolds from Natural England to The National Trust, the Wildlife Trusts, local authorities and the Cotswolds Conservation Board work together to try and ensure that the remaining grassland sites in the AONB are properly conserved and enhanced.
Help us transform the fortunes of vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife!
Wildlife-rich grasslands were once widespread throughout the UK, however due to changing land management practices, this habitat has undergone a serious decline. Now only 2% of the meadows that existed in the 1930s remain.
Save our Magnificent Meadows(www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk) is a partnership project led by Plantlife, which comprises 11 organisations including the Cotswolds Conservation Board (CCB) and is primarily funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project is working with communities to protect, conserve and restore their local meadows.
The Cotswolds element of Save Our Magnificent Meadows is being delivered by the CCB over the next three years and will be particularly working in the Cotswold scarp and river valleys. The main focus is not the management of existing high quality grassland sites, but targeting the low quality and former wildflower-rich grasslands that often surround and connect these sites.
Our Conservation Officer, Eleanor Reast, will be providing advice to landowners on grassland restoration with the aim of restoring up to 1,125 hectares over three years. She will also be recruiting ‘Landowner Champions’ who will help deliver conservation advice and support in the local community. The project has purchased a seed harvester with the aim of collecting seeds from already species-rich donor sites and broadcasting them onto poor grassland nearby.
Our Community Engagement Officer, Katherine Holmes, will be working with local communities, raising awareness of the importance of species-rich grassland through a range of events, open days and guided walks for the public. She will also be recruiting volunteers to help with practical habitat management and botantical surveying, as well as recruiting ‘Community Champions’.
To do this we need your help! Are you interested in volunteering? Would you like to be kept up to date about our events programme? Would you like to find out more about grassland restoration?