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Cornwall set to bloom as major grassland creation project begins

Staff, volunteers and members of the public hand sow seed at Lanhydrock as part of the Cornish Meadows Project
Staff, volunteers and members of the public hand sow seed accompanied by traditional Cornish folk music at Lanhydrock. | © National Trust Images/Faye Rason

Clifftops and fields across Cornwall are set to be transformed into thriving wildflower meadows, thanks to a new three-year conservation project.

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 in the last 70 years, with the remaining 3% 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.

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.

A quote by Jon StewartNational Trust General Manager for North Cornwall

To mark the start of the initiative, on Wednesday, 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.

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.

A quote by Fern Carroll-SmithNational Trust Project Officer
A field at Lanhydrock being prepared for seed sowing as part of the Cornish Meadows Project
A field at Lanhydrock being prepared for seed sowing as part of the Cornish Meadows Project | © National Trust Images/Faye Rason

At Lanhydrock, the project should see the early establishment of yellow rattle, knapweed and oxeye daisy in the next year or two and, in future, species such as eyebright, betony, and eventually, orchids.

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. Creating species-rich meadows play an important part in helping to mitgate climate change by locking up carbon, especially in the first ten years of restoration.

Importantly these spaces also offer places where people can reconnect with nature. At the first seed spreading the team were joined by the Cornish fiddle community group Bagas Crowd who played music as they scattered the seed and then led a traditional dance to tread the seed in, helping it bed into the soil.

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.

The project has been made possible a generous supporter legacy and donations to the charity’s Everyone Needs Nature fundraising appeal.
Those wishing to support the Trust’s nature recovery work can donate via the Everyone Needs Nature Appeal

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From peaceful woodlands to dramatic coastlines and rolling hills, nature has always been there for us when we've needed it. However, climate change is accelerating the decline of these places of calm. You can help give nature hope for tomorrow by donating today.

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