Celebration weekend for UK’s meadows

Monday 10th June 2013

Hannah's Meadow in DurhamHannah's Meadow in Durham

Traditional meadows and the wild plants, flowers and creatures they support have been disappearing at an alarming rate over the last 70 years, but The Wildlife Trusts are inviting the nation to celebrate those that remain this summer.

The second annual Our Meadow Wildlife weekend, on 15-16 June, will invite people to meander through meadows that remain all around the UK and re-discover the pleasures to be enjoyed and the species to be found within them.

Meadows are food for thought and nourishment for the soul

Young and old are invited to seek out events being held in surviving wildflower meadows, so that wherever you live and whatever your interest might be – dragonfly spotting in Devon, looking for mini-beasts in the Belfast Hills or searching for heath spotted orchids in Hampshire – there will be opportunities somewhere nearby to enjoy the magic of the meadow.

The weekend’s activities also provide an opportunity for The Wildlife Trusts to demonstrate how much work is being done to restore and protect the meadows that remain, even though 97% of traditional lowland meadows in England and Wales have been lost or agriculturally improved since 1940.  Upland hay meadows have suffered even more, with less than 1,000 hectares still surviving.

But Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: 

“The statistics prove just how precious our remaining traditional meadows are.  They can contain up to 120 flowering plant species, providing a vital source of nectar for bees and butterflies and habitat for birds, brown hares, grass snakes, grasshoppers, moths and many other species.

“We are determined to protect the meadows that remain and the wildlife they support.  The more we can do to raise awareness of both and show people the benefits they bring, the more we will be able to guarantee their survival for generations to come.”

Celebrity supporter Bill Oddie, Vice-President of The Wildlife Trusts, said: 

“A meadow offers the complete sensory experience: the colours of the flowers and butterflies; the buzzing of the insects and the songs of birds; the scents and perfumes of the herbs. They are food for thought and nourishment for the soul.

“Every wildflower belongs to a family, but which is which?  Every flower has a name, how did it get it?  Was it used for medicinal purposes, and if so what?  Is it lovely to look at or delightful to smell?”

Marden Meadow in KentBill’s invitation to enjoy what meadows offer is typically full-on:

“Gaze at a meadow, then walk through it, then crawl, then lie down and become part of it.  Share it with the creatures that live there. Look at them, find out their names, learn about their lives and stories.”

Bill lists his own top three meadow creatures as:

1. Hares:

“A magic animal that can disappear and reappear before your very eyes. Ancient people thought they were witches!”

2. Daddy long legs (crane fly):

“On certain days in September the grass is suddenly alive with them, and swallows skim low to fuel up before their flights south. They must eat hundreds, there’s not a lot of meat on a crane fly!”

3. Barn Owl:

“Okay, they nest in barns, but they spend a lot of time doing their ghostly patrolling over meadows, particularly appreciated since – despite being an owl – they often fly in daylight, or at dusk or dawn.”

You can download a guide to 40 great places to see wild flower meadows

Tagged with: Living Landscapes