‘Bowland Haytime’ encompasses a suite of species-rich grassland restoration project activity delivered jointly by the Yorkshire Dale Millennium Trust and Forest of Bowland AONB from 2012 to the present. These projects include Bowland Haytime, Networks for Nectar and Wildflowers for the Meadows. They have helped to deliver:
- farm ‘field-scale’ meadow restoration
- ‘pollinator patches’ and ‘mini-meadows’ within local communities and villages
- training in restoration techniques and traditional skills, including scything and hay-making
- grassland and pollinator surveying by local volunteers
- engaging schools in outdoor learning about meadows and pollinators
- collecting haytime recollections and stories
- local community events celebrating meadows
The project has been nominated as it embodies so much of what the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan seeks to achieve in future. In particular, applying the ‘Lawton principles’ of working at a landscape scale to deliver ‘bigger, better and more joined up’ and also engaging more and wider range of people in the natural environment in new and exciting ways.
What was done
Bowland Haytime particularly focused on farm ‘field-scale’ restoration of species rich grassland, including SSSI/SAC meadows, local wildlife sites and non-designated grassland sites on the grassland inventory.
Between 2012 and 2017 this activity has delivered 112ha. of meadow restoration, helping to increase Bowland’s species rich grassland by 35%. A further 3.4ha. of ‘field-scale restoration’ is planned for 2018.
The project has over the years delivered training on scything, haymaking and peening (scythe-sharpening), meadow species identification, seed collection and meadow and pollinator surveying.
The project also worked closely with Slaidburn Archive to collect haytime images and recollections from Bowland farms and farming families. This included reading and writing up recollections from a daily diary kept by a Bowland farm since 1943!
In 2013, some of Bowland’s finest meadows at Bell Sykes Farm, near Slaidburn were designated as Lancashire’s Coronation Meadow. These meadows have provided green hay and seed for 38 meadow restoration sites in and around the Forest of Bowland.
From 2014, Networks for Nectar (N4N) aimed to create a living network of nectar hubs for bees and other vital pollinating insects across the Forest of Bowland. The project helped to restore and conserve small patches of species-rich grasslands, such as field corners, roadside verges, churchyards, school grounds, orchards, village greens and smallholdings.
N4N worked closely with Clitheroe Rotary Club and Lancashire Wildlife Trust to deliver an outdoor learning project involving local schools in growing wildflowers and using meadows a classroom to learn about the habitat.
N4N also developed relationships with local tourism businesses to look at how they could provide pollinator patches. An exemplar in this regard is the Stirk House Hotel, near Gisburn, where staff went the extra mile and developed pollinator patches and a large bug hotel (built by local brownie and guide groups) within their grounds.
N4N engaged with 10 community groups, 10 local businesses, 5 schools and 6 owners/smallholders to create 25 pollinator patches and 7 mini- meadows
Wildflowers for the Meadows was established in 2016 to help to restore specie-rich grassland with a particular focus on late-flowering species, which had remained absent from many of the previously restored meadows. The project worked closely with local community groups and a local school, teaching them how to identify, collect, dry, store and sow wildflower seed to grow plug plants. Seed was collected in Bowland hay meadows and roadside verges and the resultant plug plants were then planted out by volunteers in meadows across the area.
The project worked with 6 community groups and 1 school, produced 4 ‘how to’ best practice videos on seeds and producing plug plants, and 1 film on ‘Haytime’. One of the groups, Lune Valley Community.
Beekeepers have since gone on to expand the number of sites they manage and have involved 50-70 people on ‘planting days’ within the local area.
Wildflowers for the Meadows has also worked closely with Bumblebee Conservation Trust and YDMT to continue an established BBCT citizen science project called ‘Beewalks’ in Bowland, collecting much needed diversity and abundance data of bumblebee populations across the country.
Throughout all these various project evolutions, many local events, festivals, walks, talks and farmer demonstrations have been organised to excite and enthuse people about this rare and precious habitat.
- 112 ha meadows restored and enhanced
- over 100 grasslands surveyed
- 24 people trained in plant and bumblebee identification skills
- 155 volunteers
- 400+ attendees at public events
- 21 volunteer days for young people
- 45 people taught to scythe
Bowland Haytime - Learning
- Evolution of the meadows activities in new and different ways has allowed YDMT and Forest of Bowland AONB to apply a number of times to the same funding body, Lancashire Environmental Fund.
- The close working with local farmers has helped develop trust and enduring relationships with the farming sector in Bowland, helping to widen involvement of farmers in the wider work of the AONB Partnership
- Exciting and innovative community participation events have broadened the knowledge, understanding and interest of a much wider range of people
- The involvement of Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust has helped the projec t to benefit from their experience of delivering similar projects and activity in the Yorkshire Dales National Park
Bowland Haytime - Harvest