Western Morning News

Wildflower meadows get new champions

A new group is hoping to improve the wildflower count in Devon. Moor Meadows hopes to reverse declines

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ANEW community group for West Devon and Torridge aims to support landowners, farmers and gardeners keen to restore or create wildflower meadows.

More Meadows West Devon & Torridge is based on the successful Moor Meadows Dartmoor community, which since its founding in 2015 has grown to include more than 800 meadow-makers, managing more than 1,000 acres of wildflower meadow to benefit wild plants and wildlife on Dartmoor and beyond.

Thanks to funding from the Devon Environmen­t Foundation, the More Meadows concept is an attempt to replicate the original Moor Meadows group’s success by supporting new networks of meadow-makers across Devon.

The new More Meadows West Devon & Torridge group has been founded by local nature enthusiast­s concerned about ongoing wildlife declines but inspired by efforts to create more wildlife-friendly habitats.

Although lost from much of the countrysid­e due to changes in agricultur­e during the 20th century, traditiona­l wildflower-rich grassland can be maintained, restored or created on farmland, in gardens and churchyard­s, and on road verges.

This conservati­on work can play a crucial role in turning around the fortunes of threatened bees, butterflie­s and other pollinator­s as well as the birds and mammals that rely on insects for food.

Co-founder of the new group Jon Valters, who manages a small nature reserve near St Giles on the Heath in Torridge, said: “The idea is that people in West Devon and Torridge will be able to provide each other with support and advice on how to create or restore wildflower-rich grasslands with the aim of substantia­lly increasing the number of wildflower meadows in this part of Devon.

“Some members of the new group have already come forward with projects including a proposal to create wildflower verges in their village. We are also keen to help people who wish to create smaller areas of wildflower grasslands in their gardens or local churchyard.”

The original Moor Meadows Dartmoor

‘Some members of the new group have already come forward with projects’ JON VALTERS

group has held scything workshops so meadow-makers can master this traditiona­l grassland management technique and also popular Open Meadow events, with invitation­s to view wildflower meadows on private land, chat to the owner and be inspired by what can be achieved. The West Devon & Torridge hub hopes to organise similar events and workshops in future.

The Meadow-Makers’ Forum, launched online last month, encourages the creation and spread of new More Meadows groups. The West Devon & Torridge group is the first new one to form and details of the group can be found in the Local Groups section at http://forum. moremeadow­s.org.uk/

Supporting this process for More Meadows is Devon ecologist Tracey Hamston, who said: “New groups of local meadow enthusiast­s are being formed as individual­s reach out to other wildlife-friendly landowners in their area.

“The online forum is providing a network for people to find others living nearby, organise getting together and planning how to move forward, with the aim of creating and restoring as much species-rich meadow as possible and connecting to likeminded folk in the process.”

Joining the online forum is free and offers resources and advice on managing a meadow – including where to source wildflower seeds or seed-rich ‘green hay’ – while forum members can help identify the wild plants and creatures in field or garden meadows.

The West Devon & Torridge More Meadows group is in the process of setting up a small steering group and is particular­ly keen to recruit a volunteer with IT skills.

For more informatio­n see the More Meadows forum at http:// forum.moremeadow­s.org.uk/ For anyone without easy internet access, co-founder Jon Valters can be contacted by telephonin­g 01566 784196.

 ??  ?? A marbled white butterfly, one of the species that thrive in wild flower meadows. Main image: a hay meadow with a wide variety of wildflower species
A marbled white butterfly, one of the species that thrive in wild flower meadows. Main image: a hay meadow with a wide variety of wildflower species
 ?? Jon Valters ??
Jon Valters

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