With only 2% of the country’s grassland habitats rich in wildflowers and wildlife, every field, paddock, churchyard, road verge and garden that can be converted to a well-managed meadow is a vital space for wildlife.
The original Moor Meadows Dartmoor group has more than 800 members, collectively managing over 1,100 acres of wildflower meadow in and around the national park.
Now, Exmoor residents concerned about the loss of wildflowers and wildlife from the countryside in recent decades have an online space to form a new community of meadow-makers.
DEF funding has enabled Moor Meadows to launch the Meadow-Makers’ Forum – a place to share information and advice about creating wildflower meadows. Anyone can ask a question and receive an answer from fellow meadow-makers. The forum also acts as an online hub for the creation and development of new local meadows groups under the umbrella name ‘More Meadows’.
More Meadows groups have already sprung up in West Devon, the South Hams and East Devon, and this newest group of Exmoor meadow-makers has been backed by Exmoor National Park Authority. Rob Wilson-North, ENPA’s Head of Conservation and Access said:
“There has been a drastic decline of meadows and species-rich grassland on Exmoor over the last 30 years. This has also affected the populations of important species, such as pollinators, that are dependent on them. We really welcome the establishment of a More Meadows group on Exmoor as we believe that the return of these remarkable ecosystems, whether on farm, road verge, village green, churchyard or school, is a very important part of enriching nature on Exmoor in the years to come.”
Moor Meadows on Dartmoor’s co-founder, Donna Cox, emphasised how a meadow of any size can benefit wildlife and bring a sense of satisfaction:
“Everyone is welcome to join the free Meadow-Makers’ Forum, no matter your existing level of nature conservation knowledge or the size of land you want to restore as a meadow. Wildflower meadows are a vital habitat for so many species of wild plants and insects. Birds like swallows, swifts and house martins will swoop down over meadows to look for food too. They make a wonderful wildlife spectacle, and really lift the spirits. And meadows can be made right on our doorsteps almost anywhere in Devon.”
Moor Meadows also organises free online talks. The next talk, on Wed 24th March, is entitled ‘How to Create a Meadow’ and will offer a guide on how to turn a field or patch of grassland into wildflower-rich meadow, with expert advice from Matt Pitts, Meadow Adviser for the wild plant charity Plantlife.
Anyone on Exmoor keen to take part in nature’s recovery and join the growing band of meadow-makers in Devon can join the Meadow-Makers’ Forum for free here.
Thumbnail photo credit: small tortoiseshell butterfly in meadow courtesy of Robbie Phillips (via ENPA).