New ‘meadow-makers’ group for Exmoor
A field of grass with very few flowers can be restored to a wildflower-rich meadow alive with bumblebees and butterflies – and all it takes is enthusiasm and a patch of land, no matter how small.
That’s the message to landowners and gardeners on and around Exmoor from community wildflower meadow conservation group Moor Meadows Dartmoor, as an opportunity opens for a new meadow-makers group on Exmoor.
The original Moor Meadows Dartmoor group has more than 800 members, collectively managing over 1,100 acres of wildflower meadow in and around the national park. With only 2% of the country’s grassland habitats rich in wildflowers and wildlife, every field, paddock, churchyard, road verge and garden that can be converted to a well-managed meadow is a vital space for wildlife.
Exmoor residents concerned about the loss of wildflowers and wildlife from the countryside in recent decades now have an online space to form a new community of meadow-makers.
Thanks to funding from the Devon Environment Foundation, Moor Meadows Dartmoor has launched the Meadow-Makers’ Forum, a place to share information and advice about creating wildflower meadows. Anyone can ask a question and receive an answer from all the other meadow-makers. The forum also acts as an online hub for the creation and development of new local meadows groups under the umbrella name More Meadows.
With More Meadows groups now being created in West Devon, the South Hams and East Devon, a new group of meadow-makers for Exmoor has been backed by Exmoor National Park Authority.
Exmoor National Park's Head of Conservation and Access, Rob Wilson-North said: “There has been a drastic decline of meadows and species-rich grassland on Exmoor over the last 30 years. This has also affected the populations of important species, such as pollinators, that are dependent on them. We really welcome the establishment of a More Meadows group on Exmoor as we believe that the return of these remarkable ecosystems, whether on farm, road verge, village green, churchyard or school, is a very important part of enriching nature on Exmoor in the years to come.”
Meadows included in the established Dartmoor group range in size from village front gardens and a meadow on a shed roof all the way to landholdings of dozens of acres. Co-founder Donna Cox emphasized how a meadow of any size can benefit wildlife and bring a sense of satisfaction.
She said: “Everyone is welcome to join the free Meadow-Makers’ Forum, no matter your existing level of nature conservation knowledge or the size of land you want to restore as a meadow. Wildflower meadows are a vital habitat for so many species of wild plants and insects. Birds like swallows, swifts and house martins will swoop down over meadows to look for food too. They make a wonderful wildlife spectacle, and really lift the spirits. And meadows can be made right on our doorsteps almost anywhere in Devon.”
The group also organises free online talks. The latest talk, on 25th March, is entitled How to Create a Meadow and will offer a guide on how to turn a field or patch of grassland into wildflower-rich meadow with expert advice from Matt Pitts, Meadow Adviser for the wild plant charity Plantlife.
People keen to help nature’s recovery on Exmoor can also benefit from funding. Exmoor NPA’s Rob Wilson-North explained: “In addition to getting involved with the new More Meadows Exmoor forum, we are delighted to announce a small new ‘seed’ fund that the National Park is making available for meadow creation and restoration, thanks to donations to our Caremoor for Exmoor Fund. We would love to hear from anyone interested in meadow creation, at any scale, and also from people with existing flower-rich meadows who might be interested in becoming a donor site." Anyone interested should email email@example.com
Daisy Headley, who already manages a wildflower meadow near Dulverton, highlighted the importance of a space for sharing local knowledge. She said: “Every place has its own qualities that make it unique and Exmoor is certainly no exception. That is why it is important to build upon the successes of the Dartmoor moor meadows group and create one specifically for knowledge-sharing and best practices specific to Exmoor.”
Anyone on Exmoor keen to take part in nature’s recovery and join the growing band of meadow-makers in Devon can join the Meadow-Makers’ Forum for free at http://forum.moremeadows.org.uk
Places on the online talk ‘How to Create a Meadow’ are free but must be booked in advance on https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-to-create-a-meadow-tickets-140971831543
Published: 15 March 2021
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