Sowing the Seeds

Sowing the seeds is an initiative run by the National Park in conjunction with FWAGSW, Devon Wildlife Trust, South West Water and other partners to create more wild flower meadows across Exmoor.

Bee on scabeous

Meadows, perennial grassland that is rich in native wildflowers, are an integral part of our landscapes, folklore, and farming heritage. Species-rich meadows are home to a huge variety of wildlife - insects, spiders, reptiles, birds, mammals, and bats – and as highly biodiverse ecosystems, they make a vital contribution to our environment. They provide food and shelter for pollinating insects who in turn pollinate our food crops, they help retain carbon in the soil and prevent soil erosion, they also reduce the impact of flooding, and provide rich fodder for grazing animals.

However, in the UK over 97% of our species-rich meadows have been lost since the 1930s, partly due to changes in agricultural policy and practices nationally, particularly from the 1940’s ‘plough up’ campaigns, and the green revolution in the 1960’s where fertilisers became increasingly popular and accessible. This meant wildflower meadows were ploughed up and heavily fertilised to grow cereal crops and more productive grass for grazing, and coupled with losses due to expanding urban areas meant these habitats were lost at a dramatic rate. But conserving what remains and restoring what has been lost of these now rare habitats is vital if we are to protect biodiversity, carbon storage, and our cultural heritage.

Here on Exmoor, we are slightly better than the national average, with species-rich grassland at 3.6% of the National Park. Exmoor National Park Authority has set out a nature recovery vision to restore 4,500 hectares of priority habitats such as species-rich meadows, and in 2021 the ‘Exmoor Sowing the Seeds Project’ was launched. The project is a collaboration between Exmoor National Park Authority, FWAG South-West and Devon Wildlife Trust, supported by South West Water and Natural England.

The intention is that ‘Sowing the Seeds’ will prepare the ground for a long-term, self-sustaining legacy, to revive and restore species-rich grassland across Exmoor.

The project so far is supporting 59 landowners, managers, and community groups to restore, rejuvenate, and create wildflower meadows across over 325 hectares. The project is also working with school groups, centres of learning, and communities, on educational and wellbeing activities which deepens our knowledge and connection to meadows.

Sowing the Seeds has been made possible thanks to generous donations to CareMoor for Exmoor as well as funding from South West Water and grants from the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme. You too can donate to our CareMoor Appeal to help us do more!

We would love to hear from anyone interested in meadow creation at any scale, from back gardens to farmland fields, or if you would just like more information on the project, please contact Lucy Cornwall at or Heather Harley at

Sowing the Seeds  Project Update Report 2022