Wildflowers to be restored to Westmorland meadows in a boost from Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund

Internationally-important wildflower meadows in the Westmorland Dales are among several sites that will benefit from a Defra grant of £712,700
Image of meadows at Bowberhead Farm

Bowber Head Farm is one of the Meadow Makers projects that will receive money from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund © Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Our newest nature reserve, Bowber Head Farm, has received a funding boost from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The £712,700 grant has been awarded to wildflower conservation society Plantlife, for its nationwide Meadow Makers project. Cumbria Wildlife Trust will lead the Meadow Makers project in Cumbria and restore 50 hectares of meadows at locations across the county, including at Bowber Head Farm.

Stephen Trotter, CEO of Cumbria Wildlife Trust says: “We’re absolutely delighted to receive a grant from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund and look forward to working with Plantlife and our local partners to restore meadows across Cumbria. At Bowber Head Farm, the grant will help us get started on the long process of revitalising these hugely important hay meadows and planning their long-term management. This funding will enable us to employ a project officer there for 13 months, and a trainee for six months, which is very exciting.”

Bowber Head Farm lies between Kirkby Stephen and Sedbergh and is renowned for its flower-rich hay meadows, which cover some 12ha or 30 acres. The meadows contain exceptionally rare flowers, such as wood crane’s-bill, melancholy thistle, great burnet, saw-wort and lady’s mantles, which are only found in Northern England and parts of Scotland. The Trust is working with local farmers to bring the meadows back to top condition for wildlife, following a decline in the quality of the grasslands over the last 20 years.

Stephen explains why restoring these hay meadows matters: “It’s no exaggeration to say these types of meadow are the most vulnerable of all habitats in our county. Even small changes in management can result in species being lost. They’re now genuinely rare in Cumbria and the North of England, with the vast majority having disappeared over the last 100 years. Northern hay meadows like these are important for the plants they support. It’s possible to find an amazing 30 40 plants per square metre in a good meadow! Such a wealth of plants can provide food for bees and pollinators and many different animals, including the brown hare, skylark, curlew, lapwing and twite.”

Image of melancholy thistle © Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Melancholy thistle © Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Plantlife is spearheading Meadow Makers, a major new partnership project creating wildflower meadows across England that will reverse the alarming decline that has seen 97% of meadows eradicated and the remaining 3% teetering on the brink. This wide-scale meadows restoration initiative will provide a prime platform for wildflowers and wildlife to make a stunning recovery in Cumbria, and also in Cornwall, Devon, Sussex, Herefordshire, Lancashire, and Wiltshire.

Ian Dunn, CEO of Plantlife, said: “Under the Meadow Makers project, green hay will be collected and spread from ancient ‘donor’ meadows sites to ‘recipient’ sites in a massive transplant operation, giving a powerful shot in the arm to nature recovery. Funding for Meadow Makers underlines the value of species-rich grassland at the heart of the green recovery and will power the revitalisation of some exceptional meadows, including Bowber Head Farm. We can’t wait to work alongside Cumbria Wildlife Trust and other partners to deliver more magnificent meadows for plants, people and the planet.”

We will deliver the Meadow Makers project in Cumbria in partnership with Plantlife, the National Trust, John Strutt Conservation Foundation and the Ministry of Defence.

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a fund of £40m that was set up by the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) to create jobs in nature recovery and conservation and to support the environment. It is being delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Green Recovery Challenge Fund logo

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund was set up by Defra to create jobs in nature recovery and conservation and to support the environment.

heritage lottery 332px wide

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is delivering the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.