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.
The Cotswolds AONB is one of 11 organisations involved with 'Save our Magnificent Meadows', a national project led by Plantlife and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The 3-year project is working with local communities to conserve and restore our wildflower-rich meadows and grasslands.