Cornwall set to bloom as National Trust begins major grassland creation project
- 17 September 2023
- Last updated:
- 17 September 2023
Clifftops and fields across Cornwall are set to be transformed into thriving wildflower meadows, thanks to a new three-year conservation project by the National Trust.
The scheme will create 250 hectares of species-rich grassland at sites across the county in a bid to boost rare and threatened coastal wildlife, such as solitary bees, skylarks, swifts and common lizards.
97% of species-rich grassland has been lost in the UK since the 1930s, with the remaining 3% mostly fragmented across the country, leaving little room for wildlife to spread.
As well as this loss of habitat, climate change is further compounding issues for native species, causing more extreme weather events and shifting seasons.
Jon Stewart, General Manager for the National Trust said: “The fact we’ve lost such a high proportion of beautiful and enriching meadows is having a big impact on wildlife, and is a loss to our collective wellbeing. We’re committed to reversing this trend at the National Trust and this project is a really important contribution.”
To kick start the initiative, this week Trust staff, volunteers, a local tenant farmer and members of the public, accompanied by music from a Cornish community folk group, began sowing the first of the grassland at the Trust’s Lanhydrock estate, near Bodmin. Here 4.5 hectares of neutral grassland will be turned into species-rich meadow, providing benefits for local wildlife and a spectacle for the many visitors to the property in years to come.
Seed has been collected from healthy, already species-rich ‘donor’ meadows across the county, including through partnerships with Natural England, Cornwall Council, Meadow Match, private landowners and the National Wildflower Centre, and will be spread at Natural Trust sites throughout Cornwall.
Fern Carroll-Smith, Project Officer for the National Trust, said: “This project is a real collaborative effort, with sites across Cornwall providing the seed that’ll create new, flourishing grassland to benefit both wildlife and people.
“At Lanhydrock, we should see the early establishment of yellow rattle, knapweed and oxeye daisy in the next year or two and, in future, we hope to have species such as eyebright, betony, and eventually, orchids.
“With so little of this habitat left in the country, Cornwall can play a critical role in providing a lifeline for some of our most cherished native species that depend on grasslands for food or shelter – from the Burnet moth to the Barbastelle bat.
“We also know creating species-rich meadows can lock up carbon, especially in the first ten years of restoration. So they play an important role in climate change mitigation.
“And we hope they’ll help people reconnect with nature. At our first seed spreading we were joined by the Cornish fiddle community group Bagas Crowd who played folk music as we scattered the seed and then led us in a traditional ‘serpentine’ dance to tread the seed in, helping it bed into the soil. Certainly a novel and tuneful way to get this important part of the job done.”
Most of the sites set to benefit from the new grassland are coastal, with a small handful, such as Lanhydrock, further inland. Other locations include Pentire (near Wadebridge), Botallack, Gunwalloe and the Roseland as well as many others.