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Swettenham Meadows – A heritage meadow

c. Sue Tatmanc. Sue Tatman

Situated on the picturesque, steep sided slopes of the Swettenham Valley, Swettenham Meadows’ beautiful species rich grassland is the site's most valuable conservation feature. It supports an abundance of wildlife including 14 resident species of butterfly, occasional foraging barn owls and, hiding in the surrounding scrub and hedgerows, several species of warbler.

Sadly, all is not well. Surrounding land use changes are placing greater pressure on the reserve and its inhabitants. The increased isolation of the site, within an intensively managed landscape, incentivised us to take action!

Last year, with support from the Coronation Meadows project, we took the first steps to restoring an area of formerly species poor grassland within the reserve using locally sourced green hay to introduce a variety of wildflower seeds. Alongside this, we have begun working closely with neighbouring landowners helping them undertake their own grassland restoration schemes to provide additional habitat outside of our reserve boundary.

This is all part of our pledge to restore 100 hectares into species-rich grassland within 10 years.

This year our ongoing work, within our newly restored meadow, will include the control of competitive weed species to encourage the establishment of target wildflowers in addition to planting out 2,500 native wildlife plug plants to further diversify the sward. This summer we will also begin our next meadow restoration project on two hectares of land just beyond the reserve boundary.