Hay meadow and grassland conservation

Our Wildflower Nidderdale project aims to provide wildflower ‘stepping stones’ through Upper Nidderdale via a landscape-scale approach to grassland restoration and enhancement comprising:

A tractor spreading green hay in a field alongside a flock of sheep

  • restoring and enhancing traditional species-rich wildflower hay meadows
  • enhancing other grassland habitats for the benefit of invertebrates

The project also aims to increase understanding and enjoyment of hay meadows and wild flower biodiversity among local people and visitors, though the development of a hay meadow trail with interpretative signage.

 How to restore a hay meadow

  • Identify a series of donor meadows and bank sides that can be harvested for seed
  • Survey donor meadows to record species and soil profile (using trained volunteer surveyors)
  • Identify receptor sites that have the potential to be restored to meadow or further enhanced to become more species-rich
  • Carry out soil sampling at each potential receptor site to check soil PH and composition (the soil at some potential sites will be found to be unsuitable at this stage, meaning these sites will not be taken further in the restoration programme)
  • Match donor and receptor sites
  • Harvest seed from the donor site then apply it to the receptor site (in the in the form of green hay or as seed following a drying process)
  • The farmer then manages the site through suitable grazing and a single late cut

Grassland conservation

A close up of a pink "Ragged Robin" flower

Other forms of grassland restoration include creating buffer strips as wildlife corridors for grey partridge and small mammals and act as refuges for insects in in more intensively managed grass fields. We  will also enhance road side verges and public green spaces in Upper Nidderdale where it is possible to do so.