Herefordshire meadows potentially at risk from tree planting

Many people are taking positive action to respond to the climate emergency by planting trees.

Our wildflower grassland is a precious resource that is still decreasing nationally.

Well managed diverse grassland swards are already storing carbon in significant amounts says Becky Willson, from the Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit who spoke passionately about her work in a talk called Carbon, cows and calculators.  Becky is involved in exciting new research on carbon sequestration, soils and herb rich grasslands at CEH, North Wyke and elsewhere.  “In the Soil Carbon Project, on diverse swards that are being grazed we are seeing increases in soil organic carbon of between 0.1 and 0.6% per year. If you think that that 0.1% sequesters an extra 9 tonnes per ha, if you are up at 0.6% you are holding 54 tonnes /ha. Broad leaved woodland sequesters between 4.5 – 6 tonnes per year”. In this respect diverse swards ARE part of the solution to the climate emergency. 

Herefordshire Meadows members are rising to the challenge of creating and restoring native wildflower grassland across the County (summary of 2019 meadow making pilot ) and we’re keen to ensure existing meadows are not lost to tree planting.   Wildflower meadows and pastures, wetlands, scrub, and many other habitats have benefits for wildlife, pollinators and more and are also a valuable seed source for meadow making in Herefordshire.

We are encouraging everyone to think about planting the RIGHT TREE IN THE RIGHT PLACE avoiding existing wildlife habitat on the farm and designated sites.  Remember that your permanent grassland may also have below ground archaeological features.

You may need a derogation from Natural England / RPA if you are considering planting into any land in stewardship grassland options.  Depending on tree planting density and fencing you put up to protect trees from livestock you should check how your BPS might be be affected (please see page 25) and you will need to ensure the areas in your scheme claim match those of your BPS.

If you would like help deciding where to plant on your land we can put you in touch with local advisers who can visit. If you want to find out about historic woodland sites and other historical features please download David Lovelace’s guide to researching the History of your farm

Contact Caroline Hanks or Sue Holland with any queries.