Enhancing, restoring and managing flower rich hay meadows at Hay Bridge Nature Reserve, using traditional practices to increase plant diversity.
Flower-rich hay meadows are rare in the scheme area. The main aim of the Magical Meadows project is to restore hay meadows at Hay Bridge Nature Reserve in the Rusland Valley; improving their quality and ensuring they are under correct management. This will provide knock on positive effects for wildlife associated with flower-rich hay meadows such as pollinating insects which are required for over 80% of agricultural crops. By involving the local schools and community in this restoration process, we will be increasing appreciation, enjoyment and understanding of hay meadows.
Aims and benefits:
This project is led by Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
Update, November 2017
Yellow rattle is a semi-parasitic flower which feeds off nutrients in nearby grass roots. This helps restrict vigorous grasses, allowing more delicate wildflowers to emerge. Its 'rattle' is from tiny seeds in their pods.
In the last 50 years flower-rich hay meadows have declined by 97%. At this rate, they may be gone completely within the next 10 – 50 years. The meadows are declining not just in quantity but also quality as their species richness is decreasing. Invertebrates including important pollinating species such as hoverflies, bumble and honey bees are also linked to flower-rich grasslands such as hay meadows and have also seen significant reductions in diversity and population numbers. With over 80% of agricultural crops requiring insect pollination the loss of such invertebrates poses a threat to food security and a loss of income to farmers.
The project will focus on complementing HLS funding to enhance, restore and manage flower rich hay meadows at Hay Bridge Nature Reserve, using traditional practices to increase plant diversity.
People from the local community and schools will take part in Community Planting Days, Wildflower Educational Workshops and Scything Training Days. Those interested will also have the opportunity to join the existing scything network in Cumbria.
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