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Save Our Marvellous Meadows Appeal Success

Monday 18th December 2017

Cheshire Wildlife Trust has been able to create a network of new meadows this year thanks to supporters of its ‘Save Our Marvellous Meadows Appeal’.

Nearly £12,000, has been raised to date, which will help the Trust continue its campaign to restore 100 hectares of species-rich grassland in Cheshire, within the next 10 years.

Supporters of the appeal were invited to a special plug planting event at the Trust’s Swettenham Meadows Nature Reserve, where they had the opportunity to plant some perennial wildflowers including bee favourite’s meadow vetchling and bird’s-foot trefoil.

Cheshire has lost 99% of its meadows over the last 60 years through changes in farming practices and a lack of awareness around the importance of grasslands. “Many grassland specialist pollinators such as bees, butterflies, hoverflies and moths are in rapid decline, due to this loss in our region’s landscape,” said Martin Varley, Director of Conservation at Cheshire Wildlife Trust. “Insect-feeding small mammals and birds such as the yellow wagtail, lapwing and skylark have all also been impacted by the losses.”

This year the Trust has restored 8 hectares of meadows and its campaign has attracted interest from across the region with many potential sites being put forward for 2018.

In support of the appeal, cheesemakers, Godfrey C Williams & Son from Sandbach created a honey flavoured Cheshire cheese using locally sourced honey from Haughton Honey. This was sold in their shop across the summer and raised over £100. Haughton Honey also provided the honey for Backford Belles to create a honey ice cream in support of the appeal. This is being sold from their popular Chester site which also has an onsite tea room and children’s play area. Cheshire jewellery designer/maker, Angela Kennedy of ARK Contemporary Designs has also designed a limited edition sterling silver oxeye daisy pendant which is being sold through her website at www.arkcontemporarydesigns.co.uk

“We have received fantastic support not just through our supporters’ generous donations and our wonderful volunteers who have given their time, but also through the support of organisations in the county. We’d like to thank everyone that has got involved,” said Jo Darlington, Director of Fundraising and Communications. “We know how important meadows and pollinators are to people and these funds will enable us to continue our important meadows restoration work.”

In 2016, the Trust started a project to restore meadow habitats at its Swettenham Meadows Nature Reserve, with support from the national Coronation Meadows scheme. Following the spread of a crop of green hay from nearby donor meadow Dane-in-shaw Pasture Nature Reserve in Congleton, there has already been a marked difference in the diversity of plant species. This donor site was chosen not only because it is a designated Coronation Meadow and therefore particularly rich in wildflowers, but also because it provided a local source of wildflower seed. This is important because using local sourced seed helps to conserve the local gene pool of wildflower populations. In addition to the green hay strewing some of the seed harvested was separated and grown on as plug plants, which have been planted this Autumn on the reserve to further diversify the meadow.

This year the Trust, with the help of its volunteers, has harvested seed from a number of meadows and used it to create new meadows at its Bickley Hall Farm headquarters and around its Swettenham Meadows Nature Reserve near Holmes Chapel. “By increasing the number of meadows around these key sites we are creating a network of habitats for pollinators to flourish. We’ve also developed a dedicated area at Bickley Hall Farm where we can continue to grow wildflower plug plants each year to plant at new sites,” said Director of Conservation, Martin Varley. “People have been involved at all ages too, from children attending our summer school through to landowners suggesting sites where meadows can be created.”

If you would like to support Cheshire Wildlife Trust and its ‘Save Our Marvellous Meadows Appeal’ visit www.cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/meadowsappeal.