Glorious Cotswold Grasslands

 

Glorious Cotswold Grasslands started as an exciting and ambitious project which aimed to create the largest network of wildflower-rich Jurassic limestone grassland in the country – around 100 hectares in total – over three years.

We were initially awarded a grant of over £200,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for this project, to conserve, restore, and create wildflower-rich limestone grasslands across the Cotswolds. 

This work aims secure the long term management of these precious grasslands through farming and community engagement, alongside practical and educational activity.

The background – habitat loss

In the 1930s, 40% of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was covered in wildflower-rich grassland. This habitat was abundant with beautiful wildflowers, and supported a vast diversity of wildlife, including butterflies, bees, bats, birds, and many other animals. Sadly, agricultural intensification and changing land management practices has led to the loss of almost all this grassland…less than 1.5% remains.

Glorious Cotswold Grasslands aims to reverse the decline in these habitats, by restoring and creating wildflower grasslands throughout the Cotswolds National Landscape.

The future – habitats and biodiversity restored

The biodiversity of Cotswold limestone grassland makes it very important. A typical patch can contain over one hundred species of flowering plants, including national rarities such as pasque flower and Cotswold pennycress. Wildflowers support a huge variety of invertebrates, including the Chalkhill Blue and Duke of Burgundy butterflies. In turn, the invertebrates support a variety of mammals, bats, and birds higher up the food chain.

Through careful management it is possible to restore previously ‘improved’ grasslands and even to create new species-rich grasslands. The primary objective of Glorious Cotswold Grasslands was to restore and create 100 hectares of species-rich grassland across the Cotswolds in 3 years, primarily in locations which will extend and join-up existing areas.

The future of our work

In total, over the initial 3 years of the project, we have restored over 200 hectares of wildflower meadow, doubling the original target of 100 hectares – an amazing achievement! In 2021 we entered into a partnership with Severn Trent Water as part of their Great Big Nature Boost to restore 60 hectares of wildflower grassland over the next 3 years. This, combined with several other potential funding streams and the huge success of the project to date has enabled Cotswold National Landscape to move the Glorious Cotswold Grasslands project onto a permanent footing, meaning we will be working to restore Cotswolds grassland for many years to come.

We aim to work with large and small private landowners and managers as well as conservation charities and local authorities who manage grassland such as road verges.

Want to help us continue to thrive? Donate below!

Donate to the Cotswolds Conservation Board

Newsletters and events

As part of our engagement work, we aim to run a number of events throughout the year, news of which will be posted here. These will hopefully include guided walks, events and festivals, and equine and landowner workshops. As these are finalised they will be listed below.

Volunteer with us

One of the best things about the project is that we’re inviting everyone to get involved! Want to know your knapweeds from your hawkweeds, and your cowslips from your clovers? During the spring and summer we are always looking for help with botanical surveys of our sites. Don’t worry if you’re not an expert – we provide training on identification and survey techniques. Can you spare a few hours to help our wildflowers and other wildlife? Why not join our conservation volunteers at one of our seed harvesting days in July and August? No experience required, and all essentials (including tea and cake!) will be provided.

Get involved

Working with schools

Are you a primary school teacher? Would you be interested in a visit to your school where we can run an educational session during a lesson or club? Our art workshops will engage children with wildflower grassland habitats, and tie in with KS1 and KS2 science curriculum. We cover topics including wildlife identification and keys, flower structures, habitats and adaptation, food chains, the plant life cycle, and the human impact on the environment. If you have the space, we can even help plant a wildflower meadow in your grounds.

More information

Land owners & managers

Do you own or manage some grassland? We provide advice on land management best practice, and techniques to enhance or restore grassland. Encouraging species-rich wildflower grassland offers benefits to you, your livestock, and the wider environment.

Download our Glorious Cotswold Grasslands Advice Pack for guidance on:

  • Grassland assessment
  • Management of existing grassland sites
  • Enhancement and restoration methods
  • Preparation of sites
  • Seed harvesting and distribution
  • Ongoing support

Apply for a grant

We are delighted to announce the launch of a small grant scheme to assist landowners, land managers, and members of the community with their wildflower grassland projects. We offer small grants of up to £500 (and exceptionally up to £1000) to help fund capital items or works which facilitate the restoration of existing grassland sites or the creation of new wildflower grasslands using locally sourced wildflower seed. Please read our grant documents linked below for further information and we look forward to receiving your application.

All applications need to be in by 28 February 2022 when the grants programme comes to an end.

Meet our team

Harvey Sherwood

Harvey Sherwood is the Glorious Cotswold Grasslands Project Officer and works full time on Glorious Cotswold Grasslands. He has worked in a range of practical and advisory roles in farming, ecology and land management for many years and has extensive experience working with land managers in the Cotswolds.

Email: harvey.sherwood@cotswoldsAONB.org.uk

 

Anna Field

Anna Field is the Glorious Cotswold Grasslands Assistant Project Officer and works part-time on Glorious Cotswold Grasslands. She is a trained ecologist with a wide variety of experience of botanical, invertebrate, and ornithological surveys and practical habitat conservation in the Cotswolds.

Email: anna.field@cotswoldsAONB.org.uk