Meadow Makers grassland restoration
We've joined forces with conservation charity Plantlife in a new £8 million programme to improve habitats across England
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By partnering with Plantlife, we aim to protect and restore species rich wildflower and waxcap grasslands.
The Meadow Makers projects:
- will help restore the biodiversity of over 100 hectares of existing grasslands
- extend across seven sites in the South West and North East
We want to drive up grassland restoration, creating an abundance and diversity of plants wildlife.
Part of our heritage and an inspiration artists and writers for centuries – meadows and grasslands are valuable in many ways.
They are species-rich ecosystems with native wild plants at their heart. Their soils are bursting with life, including fungal networks covering thousands of miles.
The Meadow Makers project reaches beyond the three per cent of grasslands remaining in the UK. It will work with third-party landowners to restore and create species-rich meadows.
Our aim is for the project to contribute towards the restoration of 100,000 hectares of species-rich grassland by 2030.
Why are grasslands important?
Grasslands cover at least 40% of the UK. Ancient wildflower meadows and other permanent species-rich grasslands are very important habitats for wild plants and fungi. They also support pollinators, birds and a wide variety of other wildlife.
Plant diversity in grasslands – particularly deep-rooting plant species – can increase carbon capture in the soil. Plants can use their deep and varied roots to access water and nutrients, drawing down more carbon. This means that by managing grasslands for biodiversity, we can also help to tackle climate change.
Grasslands also play an important part in flood mitigation, as well as providing nutrient-rich, additive-free grazing.
But England and Wales have lost 97 per cent of wildflower meadows since the 1930s. Intensive agricultural practices, development and changes in land use mean only small, fragmented areas of species-rich grassland remain.
Restoring these natural spaces is a vital part of meeting the urgent challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and human health.
Plantlife has spearheaded grasslands restoration in the UK. It has successfully delivered the Save Our Magnificent Meadows, Coronation Meadows and Magnificent Meadows Cymru conservation partnership projects.
Previously, Plantlife joined us on grasslands restoration pilot projects in 2020 and 2021.
Here's some more information about two of our Meadow Maker's projects.
Warren Farm, Hereford
This £372,600 project will help restore the biodiversity of up to 3.7Ha of existing grasslands across Warren Farm near the Malvern Hills.
By reducing the land’s fertility and grass-dominance - wildflowers will get an opportunity chance to flourish. One method of doing this is introducing the grass-reducing yellow rattle.
Seed harvested from nearby ‘donor’ species-rich meadows and grazing with old livestock breeds will transform this meadow into a flower-rich habitat of plant life including:
- oxeye daisy
- lady’s bedstraw
- bulbous and meadow buttercups
Greena Moor Nature Reserve, Holsworthy, Cornwall
Greena Moor is known for its culm grassland, a type of purple moor-grass and rush pasture. It has real potential to hold water, filter pollution and retain carbon.
This £463,200, 15-year agreement will see the site flourish. Grasslands will be restored using various techniques. For instance, using green hay from neighbouring fields will allow a wide range of wildflowers to set seed and grow.
We hope that a variety of plant species will once again populate the meadows, including:
- whorled caraway
- devil’s-bit scabious (the food plant of the marsh fritillary butterfly)
- tawny sedge
Did you know?
Since 2015, we've invested around £25 million towards the creating, enhancing and restoring habitats on or near our road network.
In 2022, we invested £7 million into a combined group of Network for Nature projects with The Wildlife Trusts. This was one of the biggest contributions to biodiversity improvements in our history.
We aim to achieve no net loss of biodiversity by 2025.
Our Environmental Sustainability Strategy sets out our vision to:
- mitigate the impact of England’s busiest roads
- ensure they can be used as a force for good for generations to come