The Restoring Ryedale’s Lowland Meadows Project is a partnership project between Buglife, North Yorkshire County Council, the Yorkshire Naturalists Union and the Yorkshire Arboretum. It is working with local land-managers to restore and create areas of wildflower-rich meadows, which will act as habitat stepping stones on Yorkshire’s B-Lines network. This two-year project has restored and created c. 30 ha of wildflower-rich grasslands at sites from Stamford Bridge to Malton, and on to Helmsley.
Background to the Project
The Restoring Ryedale’s Lowland Meadows Project started in August 2012 to restore and creating wildflower-rich grasslands within a defined stretch Yorkshire’s B-Lines. The project worked with a number of landowners and land managers who identified areas of land where existing grasslands could be enhanced, or where new meadows could be seeded. The project worked on eight individual sites, including two arable fields, a churchyard and several species-poor grasslands.
A range of management activities was undertaken to increase the range and diversity of wildflowers and the insect pollinators which rely on them for food.
Meadow creation and restoration
The project carried out a range of wildflower-rich grassland creation and restoration utilising seed harvested from nearby species-rich (SSSI) hay meadows, or UK provenance seed was sourced from seed suppliers signed up to the Flora Locale Code of Practice. Intensive management of the newly sown or restored grasslands was carried out in the first two years, including programmes of cutting and removal of vegetation. Wildflower plug plants grown from Yorkshire collected seed, were also planted into a number of other sites to enhance existing grasslands.
Monitoring and management
Baseline surveys of plants and invertebrates (Diptera and Aculeates) were carried out on each of the project sites by project staff and local entomologists. Over 250 invertebrate species were identified including 11 bumblebees and 18 butterfly species. After two years of intensive grassland management, the long-term management of the project sites will now return to the land managers. The majority of the land will be managed as part of livestock farming systems, providing both hay and animal grazing. Land at the Yorkshire Arboretum will be managed specifically to encourage more insect pollinators and other wildlife.
Approximately 30 ha of wildflower-rich lowland meadows have been created or restored, although the new wildflower-rich grasslands will take many more years to develop they are already being visited by a range of insect pollinators.