Going wild for our wildflower hay meadows

Sarah Jones, Engagement Ranger Sarah Jones Engagement Ranger
Volunteers surveying the hay meadow at Dinefwr

Working as a National Trust Ranger at Dinefwr Park means I’m out and about on the estate throughout the year and after a long, cold winter of fencing and hedge-laying, these barmy summer days are a welcome treat.

But topping up my T-shirt tan isn’t the only benefit for working outdoors. There is something very special about the fields at Dinefwr that allows me to enjoy the sights, smells and experiences that nowadays not many people will have encountered before.

If you take a walk through Castle field; aptly named because it is the field just beneath Dinefwr Castle; you will find that it comes alive with butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, bees and lots of other buzzing and chirping insects.

Instead of a carpet of lush green grass that has become the norm in the UK, Castle Field it’s awash with brightly coloured flowers that seem to warm the air with the exotic vanilla fragrance of orchids or the sweet and floral scent of clover and more –What a treat!

So why is Castle field so special? It’s a flowering hay meadow, a haven for British wildlife and a vital habitat that unfortunately is in decline here in the UK.

We’ve lost around 98% of flower rich hay meadows in the UK since the 1930s and this is  largely due to modern farming techniques. What remains of the traditional wildflower meadow are very small and vulnerable pockets of land.

But all is not lost. The National Trust are committed to building bigger, better and more joined up areas of high nature status land under our care.

In fact by 2025 our ambition is that at least 50 per cent of our farmland in the UK will be 'nature-friendly', with protected hedgerows, field margins, ponds, woodland and other habitats allowing plants and animals to thrive.

Supporting sustainable farming will be crucial for the plans to succeed. Many of our 1,500 farm tenants are already farming in a way which benefits wildlife and we will continue to work in partnership with them to ensure we deliver for nature.