Making meadows at the White Cliffs of Dover

Grassland flowers on the White Cliffs of Dover

As Britain marks National Meadows Day, we're proud to announce that we've transformed an area of farmland on the White Cliffs of Dover into a wildlife haven full of wild flowers, butterflies and rare birds.

Thank you for making this possible. We couldn't have done it without your help.

The work to restore the land to its natural grassland state has dramatically changed the landscape, two and half years after you helped us save it for the nation by contributing to a £1million public fundraising appeal we led with the late Dame Vera Lynn. We'd like to give a special thanks to the 20,000-plus members and supporters who helped us achieve this. 

The Wanstone site, which lost a lot of wildlife through being intensively farmed since the Second World War, is now full of colour and life. Thanks to your generous donations several rare birds such as skylark, corn bunting, partridge and meadow pipit are now on the rise. 

It is hoped that the new habitat, which is already home to marbled white and red admiral butterflies, will also support rarer chalkland species such as Adonis blue and dingy skipper butterflies. 

" To see the fields returning to their natural state, covered in poppies and ringing with the sound of skylarks, is really heartening. It’s a tribute to everyone who supported our campaign and helped us buy back this landscape for the nation."
- Virginia Portman, General Manager at the White Cliffs

How you helped us to get White Cliffs to 'bloom again'

In the spirit of poignant lyrics sung by Dame Vera Lynn ‘there will be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover’ and ‘the valley will bloom again’, with your help we've restored this much-loved landscape back to health. 

Since the 70-hectare site came under our care in 2017, work has been carried out to reverse 70 years of intensive agriculture, which has taken its toll on the land and the wildlife that depends on it. 

A ‘bumblebird’ seed mix was sown in the autumn to provide food for the birds through the winter and create nectar-rich plants for pollinators in the summer. Other fields were planted with wild flowers, grasses and cereal to give cover for nesting birds and help create a mosaic of habitats across the Cliffs. Helped by a wet winter in 2019, this has resulted in an explosion of colour, including a sea of red poppies.

Barley was sown to remove some of the nutrients from the soil. This is because wild flowers on chalk grassland typically thrive on low-nutrient soil. Plants now growing include common vetch, bird’s-foot trefoil, crimson clover, yellow rattle, lady’s bedstraw, ox-eye daisy, meadow buttercup and self heal. 
 

Image credit: Matt Hayward

 

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