Hollybed Farm announced as a Coronation Meadow

Wednesday 5th June 2013

Starling Bank SSSI, Hollybed Farm (c) Harry GreenStarling Bank SSSI, Hollybed Farm (c) Harry Green

A Worcestershire Wildlife Trust meadow has become one of the first Coronation meadows in the country.

At the end of 2012, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales suggested a remarkable nationwide project that will see a meadow in every county to mark 60 years since The Queen's Coronation.

“The sixtieth anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation; what better excuse for a concerted effort to begin the creation of at least one meadow in each county?”
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

Flagship Meadows

The first stage of Coronation Meadows will launch at Highgrove House today, with the announcement of the first 60 flagship meadows.

Coronation Meadows are outstanding examples of flower-rich grasslands, surviving fragments that support our wildlife and which are often the result of years of careful management by generations of one family. Many have an annual hay cut and are grazed by hardy, native breeds of livestock.

Coronation Meadows reflect the local character of the landscape; Martins’ Meadow in Suffolk has green-winged orchids and meadow saffron, whilst Cae Blaen-dyffryn in Carmarthenshire has whorled caraway and thousands of lesser butterfly-orchids.

Hollybed Farm in the southwest corner of Worcestershire sits in the historic Malvern Chase - a landscape where natural and human activities have created a rich and special diversity of plants, insects, birds and other animals.

Loss of flower-rich meadows

97% of our wild flower rich meadows have been destroyed since the last war. If this scale of devastation had happened to our woodland, we’d be declaring a national catastrophe. Our green land, now devoid of flowers and the wildlife they support, is anything but pleasant.

Dr Trevor Dines, Coronation Meadows Partnership

Around 20% of surviving lowland meadows can be found in Worcestershire.

Over 80% of the 60 meadows identified can trace an undisturbed history beyond the Coronation; many are truly ancient, dating back hundreds of years. The oldest so far is Loughborough Big Meadow in Leicestershire which can be traced back to 1762. They are also home to quite astonishing displays of wild flowers – orchids, cowslips, buttercups and oxeye daisies in their thousands.

Peter Bullard of the Coronation Meadows Partnership said “When my father was young he could walk the entire way from Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham, a 23-mile journey, through orchid-rich meadows and grasslands."

Coronation Meadows has three aims:

  1. The first, the identification of a Coronation Meadow in each county, will be completed over the summer as meadows for the remaining counties are identified – there are candidates for nearly all of them.
  2. The second stage is to identify sites within each county where green hay and seed from the Coronation Meadow can be used to restore or recreate new meadows, so fulfilling HRH’s original vision.
  3. The final part of the project is perhaps the most ambitious – to map the UK’s remaining meadows. No such inventory currently exists (neither government nor conservation organisation has this information) but, with the help of the public, we hope to identify all the small pockets of flower-rich meadows that remain.

"My Coronation Meadows idea came to me when I read Plantlife’s 2012 report and fully appreciated just how many wildflower meadows had been lost over the past 60 years. This year, we are celebrating my mother’s coronation so surely there is no better moment to end this destruction and to stimulate a new mood to protect our remaining meadows and to use them as springboards for the restoration of other sites and the creation of new meadows right across the UK."
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

Far Starling Bank SSSI, part of the wider Hollybed Farm nature reserve, will provide seed and green hay to be spread on other meadows to increase species diversity and ensure connectivity for wildlife to move through the landscape.

Coronation Meadows logoStephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, added "We are delighted that our Patron HRH the Prince of Wales is championing wildflower meadows as part of the Coronation celebrations.

"Few people of my generation have ever experienced the beauty of a flower-rich meadow in full bloom. 97% of these meadows have been lost in the last century. But we are determined to ensure the next generation does have that chance. These 60 meadows are precious and irreplaceable fragments of a vital habitat. With the right care they can thrive and spread their seed to new areas helping us to revive our landscapes.”
 

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Tagged with: Centenary & anniversaries, Living Landscapes, Coronation Meadows, Hollybed Farm, Starling Bank