Sixty “Coronation meadows” have been identified across the UK as part of a new campaign to restore threatened wildflower meadows.
The campaign, launched to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation, follows reports of dramatic declines in many of the UK’s meadow flower species. The project, led by the Prince of Wales and three wildlife and livestock organisations, will take seed and green hay from these designated meadows to recreate new ones.
One Coronation meadow will be named in each county by the end of the year. The 60 meadows identified so far represent some of the UK’s “outstanding” wildflower meadows, according to the team.
As part of the campaign, people will be able to find out where their nearest Coronation meadow is using an online map. By the end of the year, 107 such meadows will have been identified to add to Prince Charles’ own wildflower meadow at his Gloucestershire home, Highgrove House.
Meadows already given the “Coronation” accolade include Loughborough Big Meadow in Leicestershire, Therfield Heath in Hertfordshire, and Hayton Meadow in Shropshire.
Plantlife, the Wildlife Trusts and Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) also aim to compile the first full inventory mapping all the UK’s remaining wildflower meadows as part of the project.
The campaign follows reports of dramatic declines in many of the UK’s meadow flower species. These include:
- Green-winged orchids, found in lowland hay meadows, have decreased by 50% over the last 50 years.
- Lesser butterfly orchids and greater butterfly orchids have also declined by 60% and 47% respectively.
- 67% of distinctively-patterned fritillaries, which grow in meadows, have disappeared in the last few decades.
- Half the UK’s greater butterfly orchids have been lost in the last 50 years.
The variety of flowers and grasses that are characteristic of wildflower meadows also support an array of wildlife, and are vital for many of the UK’s insect and butterfly species.
Ploughing, drainage, reseeding, increased fertiliser and herbicide application have all contributed to the loss of meadows, say the Wildlife Trust. The Coronation meadows will be used as “donor” sites, providing seeds to be used in other local meadows.
This method will help preserve the regional characteristics of each meadow, as different areas tend to host different mixes of plant and flower species.