Meadow Restoration Is Bringing Back Birds, Bees And Wildflowers
As our urban and agricultural lifestyles continue to expand, the loss of valuable meadows full of flowers has increased, resulting in plants that were once common becoming vulnerable to extinction. But that is starting to change as more landowners start restoring these beautiful fields.
Seeing an open meadow may cause some to think that such an open space is being wasted. But it isn’t. Not only do meadows provide picturesque natural landscapes that humans can enjoy walking through or just looking at, but they also provide habitat for small animals as well as food for birds and insects and any plant-eating species that pass by.
Unfortunately, too many of these meadows have been reduced to patches by the roadside, but in the United Kingdom, farmers and other landowners are determined to bring back these meadows and the flowers they produce.
But they don’t just want to restore the meadows by planting commercial seeds, they want the unique wildflowers that used to be found in abundance, the same that also happen to bloom for longer periods of time than flowers grown from commercial seeds.
And that’s exactly what they are getting by harvesting seeds from these small roadside patches and spreading it out on the land they wish to restore.
“The roadside nature reserves across south Norfolk are particularly rich in quite unusual species,” Helen Baczkowska of Norfolk Wildlife Trust told The Guardian. “Because of the decline in wildflower meadows, they only exist on these roadside nature reserves. This is how we can take these species and create some new meadows so they have a more secure future.”
Indeed, and securing the future of meadows also helps secure dwindling bee and insect populations by providing them with the nectar they feed on to survive.
Climate change and the use of pesticides have significantly reduced bird and insect populations over the years.
Because of the meadow restoration efforts, fields are abuzz with activity, says Rachael Long, a local farmer who restored a meadow on her own land.
“It’s fantastic and also it’s been very interesting to learn about this place that we know so well and see it from a different angle,” Long said. “It looks glorious in June, the insects are buzzing, it’s very rich, and it’s very exciting when a new wildflower arrives, like an orchid.”
It’s a big deal to nature lovers who enjoy seeing and smelling new flowers, many of which they may not have seen before because they are not as common as they once used to be.
Agricultural pursuits have resulted in farmers plowing meadows under to replace them with rows of crops or pasture for cattle and other livestock.
Farmers like Long, however, are now eager to bring nature back for their own enjoyment and the benefit of wildlife.
“There’s a sea-change in farmers, and a greater interest in restoring semi-natural habitats,” Norfolk Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group conservation adviser Henry Walker said. “The appetite is there for creating wildflower meadows or linear margins around arable fields and I hope more farmers will take up this scheme. This is a great source of local seed that will thrive on farmers’ soil types, rather than off-the-shelf mixes where five or six wildflower species are plastered across the countryside.”
So farmers can also potentially make some money by selling the wildflower seeds to others who want to restore a meadow on their own property. But the project proves that humans and nature can co-exist. We just have to be willing to share the land, and that’s more important than ever before at the moment as human greed and ignorance threaten to wipe out millions of plants and animals forever.
Restoring meadows is a good start to reverse the damage.
Featured Image: Wikimedia