Herefordshire Meadows November Newsletter

Many of you have probably been closely following the events at COP26 in Glasgow where activists and scientists from around the world have, once again, been stressing the urgent need for action to tackle the ongoing climate crisis. Species rich grasslands are part of the answer with the soils beneath them being capable of locking away up to 54 tonnes of carbon / ha. The eminent ecologist Penny Anderson has reviewed the literature on this subject and you can read this review on the CIEEM website . You can speak up for grasslands by joining PlantLife’s COP campaign (more details below).

As we move into Autumn whether you have just created/ restored or already have an established wildflower meadow, we all need to be thinking about good winter meadow management. We have put some top tips on this below.

We are sad to be having to say goodbye to our Meadow Maker trainee, Maya Broadbank, this month. Maya has been doing a fantastic job throughout the summer helping with all aspects of our work and bringing some great additional skills to the mix, not least her filmmaking abilities. Read on for more details on some of the things Maya has been up too.

Spotlight: Maya Broadbank, 2021 Meadow Maker Trainee

Maya joined the Herefordshire Meadows team in April as part of the  Plantlife Meadow Makers project. She immediately got stuck into all aspects of the work from surveying to seed harvesting. She has also been doing an amazing job digitally mapping past and current project sites to give us a better picture of where gaps remain around the county. Maya has also been creating some great mini videos on the importance of soil health, electrical weed treatment and more. You can watch all of these on our YouTube channel. Maya’s camera skills have clearly been recognised as she has just landed a new job with a company called Films @59 which edits lots of nature documentaries (including all of David Attenborough’s!!). We are hoping she will be able to shine a spotlight on how magnificent meadows are. Good luck Maya!!

Meadow Making in 2021:

During the last month seed broadcasting has been continuing at great pace and is now completed.  Very well done and many thanks to everyone who has donated, harvested, hauled tarps and sacks, dried or purchased native flower seed for restorations not to forget careful weighing out in buckets, sacks and containers to broadcast evenly. A huge amount of energy and enthusiasm has gone into restoring over 56 ha of meadows. Looking forward to plenty of seedlings in ‘22 and keep sending photos.

Meadow Winter Management:

While your meadows may not look as striking as during the summer that does not mean they should be forgotten about during the autumn and winter months. Proper winter management is key to ensuring successful wildflower germination next year. The best way of thinking about this is to take the seedlings eye view. The aim is to ensure that ample light and air gets down to ground level to help these little plants establish themselves. You can do this by:

  • grazing or cutting to make sure the grass doesn’t dominate before the seedlings are established. Don’t let the grass form a closed canopy over the bare soil you created.
  • Daily checks when livestock are grazing will enable you to decide when best to remove animals in wet weather or if they should decide to make a beeline for particularly delicious existing wildflowers or seedlings.
  • The stock may need to go in and out several times over the winter to do this job effectively
  • Making sure to remove any livestock / stop cutting when the first yellow rattle seedlings appear (usually in March).

You can find more details on this in our meadow restoration plan.

Catch up:

Habitat Aid: Floodplain Meadows by Nick Mann

A summary of some of the main points from the recent conference on flood plain meadows, organised by the Floodplain Meadows Partnership. Read the blogpost here.

Upcoming Events:

Herefordshire Rural Business Advice Day 2021: 24th November, 12 – 6pm.

The Herefordshire Meadows team will be at the Herefordshire Rural Business Advice Day, being held in the Three Counties Hotel, Hereford, enthusing all comers, answering questions, and advising on all aspects of meadows and diverse grasslands.

There are some great presentations throughout the afternoon too which you can book into.  The event is free to attend, but we recommend booking in advance for the presentations and 1-to-1 drop ins, to guarantee your place. Full details of the RBA day here.

New Projects:

Wilder Herefordshire Project

Herefordshire Meadows are delighted to be partners in Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wilder Herefordshire Project that has just started. It will run until March 2023 and is funded through the second round of Green Recovery Challenge Fund. Wilder Herefordshire has broader aims to put Herefordshire’s nature into recovery. Our small part in this project is to focus on existing high quality grassland sites that play a vital role in helping to connect habitats across the whole landscape.

We hope that many of you will want to get involved and more details will follow next month.

Stand up for Meadows:

Grasslands+ Campaign

Grasslands+ is a coalition of three charities who have come together to protect and restore the planet’s grasslands, savannahs, plains, heaths, steppes and meadows. The coalition is made up of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife. During COP26 they are asking you to tell the UK government to make meadows a priority at the conference by writing to your MP and signing their petition. All of the details on how to do this can be found here.

Follow us:

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Best wishes,

Herefordshire Meadows Team