Hay Meadow Monitoring, Longshaw

The grasses in the hay meadow grow alongside wildflowers. © National Trust / Drew Marsh

The grasses in the hay meadow grow alongside wildflowers.

Longshaw is lucky to have several species-rich hay meadows and just as lucky to have a group of volunteers keen to get involved with monitoring them.

Hay meadows are special for the range of rare plant and insect species they support. These important grasslands are managed in a traditional, less intensive way: leaving the plants to flower and set seed before cutting them helps to ensure a diverse range of plants year after year. To make sure that the management regime is working, they need to be surveyed annually to see exactly what can be found growing there.

Every June, armed with plant identification books, quadrats and clipboards, a team of volunteers head to four different hay meadow sites around the estate, one of them being the Grouse Inn Fields, and spend a sunny day plant-spotting. The aim is to identify some key indicator species and the volunteers are trained in the survey techniques to be used as well as how tell a fescue from a foxtail.

We can’t always guarantee the sunshine, but the results the volunteers collect for four sites will prove to be really helpful in the management of these sites.