Cotswolds Conservation Board to launch new scheme to save wildflower grasslands

The Cotswolds Conservation Board has been awarded a grant of over £200,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for a project which will conserve, restore and create wildflower-rich limestone grasslands across the Cotswolds. The project, Glorious Cotswolds Grasslands, aims to create the largest network of wildflower rich Jurassic limestone grassland in the country – around 100 hectares in total, over three years.

The project hopes to secure the long term management of these precious grasslands through farming and community engagement, alongside practical and educational activity.

The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) contains just over half the UK’s wildflower rich Jurassic limestone grassland. These grasslands are fragmented and vulnerable, and in urgent need of intervention to maintain, restore, and most importantly, to expand and connect them by creating new wildflower-rich grassland.

The central aims of the project are to:

  • Collect seed from existing wildflower rich grasslands, and sow them on sites to restore or create new grasslands
  • Provide advice and guidance on managing grasslands to maximise their benefit – for wildlife and people
  • Provide practical assistance such as managing scrub and invasive species
  • Work with communities and highway authorities to improve road verges to create a network of flower-rich corridors
  • Establish a sustainable service to deliver advice, equipment, and advocacy beyond the life of the project.

Mark Connelly, Land Management Officer at Cotswolds Conservation Board said, “We’re delighted that the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has supported the Glorious Cotswolds Grasslands project. Their generous grant will allow us to implement this ambitious project, and will help us give Cotswolds grasslands, and the fantastic wealth of wildlife to be found in them, a better chance for the future.”

Simon Wightman, from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation said, “We are pleased to support the conservation, restoration and creation of wildflower rich grasslands across the Cotswolds. Trustees were especially impressed by the Conservation Board’s commitment to finding a sustainable approach to grassland management beyond the end of the grant period.

Trustees also applauded the project’s focus on education, and on exchanging learning with other organisations involved in grassland management. We are keen to hear how the project progresses.”

If you or your organisation is interested in finding out more about this valuable project, please contact Mark Connelly (Cotswolds Conservation Board) at


Notes to editors:

  • The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (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 third largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks 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.
  • 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:

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

  • Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. We do this by funding the charitable work of organisations who are building an inclusive, creative and sustainable society.
  • The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK. In 2017 we made grants of £40.5 million towards a wide range of work within the arts, children and young people, the environment and social change. We also have a £45 million allocation to social investments for organisations with the aim of creating social impact.’’