Volunteers make like Poldark to manage the meadows

Scything volunteers

Cheshire Wildlife Trust, together with Stockport Council, has launched a new volunteer task group to look after the species-rich grassland in the borough.

From Gatley Carrs right over to Etherow Country Park in Compstall, Stockport has a surprising amount of grasslands of high conservation value.

But in recent years, some of these grasslands have been lost to the succession of brambles and small trees, so Cheshire Wildlife Trust is calling on aspiring Poldarks to help bring these areas back into management.

By cutting these meadows on an annual basis, the Trust can help to conserve the wildflowers and associated wildlife that makes its home amongst the grass such as meadow brown butterflies, bumblebees and field voles. This work supplements Stockport Council's meadow management programme and is aimed at bringing back meadows that cannot be managed using modern methods due to access issues.
To help the Trust in its mission, a new volunteer group called the Stockport Scythers has been set up and members will be going old school and using scythes, hay rakes, and pitchforks to cut and clear the grasslands. 

The group has been set up in conjunction with Stockport Council by the Volunteer Coordinator, Adam Machin, as part of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust's Natural Futures volunteering project, a four-year scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery, which aims to get more people doing more for wildlife across the Cheshire region. 

Adam said: “It's a lovely thing for local people to come and do. It gets them outdoors, amongst the butterflies and wildflowers, and encourages them to do their bit for the local community and local wildlife. And it’s actually not as hard work as the Poldark TV series makes it look!

"It's quite a nice social thing to do. With no machinery running, people can chat to each other as they work and they can also look back at the end of the day and see what they have achieved by working together. Scything really is a wonderful way for local people to help look after some of the species-rich grasslands dotted throughout the borough.”

Councillor Sheila Bailey, Stockport Council’s Executive Member for Communities and Housing, said: “With continuing cuts to the Council's budget it is increasingly difficult to maintain parks and greenspaces to the standards we would all like to see. In view of this the contribution made by volunteers is invaluable as are the opportunities presented by organisations such as Cheshire Wildlife Trust. Well done to everyone who is working on this project". 

Adam is hoping to have a bank of trained volunteers across the borough so that at least six people are free on each task day to put the scythes to good use. If you would be interested in helping the group as they move from site to site, please contact amachin@cheshirewt.org.uk for more details.