Guest Blogger Joseph and Meadow Maker

Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. My father would tell me this as a child and a young adult, steering me towards a career I would love rather than endure for rewards. The path always seemed green for me, one which required me to look after the land and protect the life that inhabits it. Since starting my new role as a Meadow Maker trainee with the YDMT (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust), I have truly learnt the meaning of the phrase.

As the days grew longer and brighter, spring reared its head and so began the process of growth and rebirth. Trees began to grow new leaves and wildflower meadows began their journey to bloom with colour and fragrance. With the summer sun now gleaming across the landscape, wildflower meadows are at their most colourful.

Seeing vast swathes of wildflower meadows in bloom would have been a regular occurrence before the start WW2; however, huge quantities of meadow were ploughed and turned to arable farmland in the effort to provide the nation with enough food during uncertain times. Look forward 60-70 years and only 3% of the species-rich wildflower meadows remained, leading to concern about the future of this important and special habitat. Wildflower meadows are a biodiversity hotspot and provide food and habitat for a large variety of plant, insect, bird, mammal, and amphibian. Securing a future where they flourish right across the country is imperative for the survival of so many species.


What does it done?

Besides the amazing work being carried out at HFCM, there are many other initiatives and projects aimed at thwarting the loss of wildflower meadows through conserving existing and restoring new meadows across the country. In May of 2012, the Forest of Bowland AONB joined forces with the YDMT to deliver a Hay Time hay meadow restoration project here in Bowland, funded with help from the Lancashire Environment Fund. Since then, more and more degraded meadows have been restored to their former glory: now boasting lost species of flower and insect. This year, the Bowland Hay Time project has been funded through the Meadow Maker Project – owing to the successful Plantlife bid to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The project aims to restore 25 hectares of wildflower meadow across the Forest of Bowland AONB at 11 sites using a combination of “green hay” and brush harvested seed from our donor meadows. Piece by piece, the Forest of Bowland’s meadows are being restored and re-connected so that species are able to move freely and unhindered. The project has also provided funding for a 6 month “Meadow Maker” traineeship, aimed at getting young people into conservation. That’s where I come into play.


Meadow Maker Role

I have learnt so much in my first two months of the traineeship; how to identify plants and bumblebees, which can be difficult when they don’t stop buzzing around; the intricate process of hay time, which requires a deep understanding of plant phenology; and the important role upland livestock farmers hold in the conservation of wildflower meadows, which creates many trades-offs for famers. So much so that I believe my head has doubled in size!

The role has been very varied and has kept me on my toes – especially when trying to wrangle sheep on foot! Working for a local charity has allowed me to see all the different sectors and roles required to keep it running. From fundraising, to public outreach and meadow surveys, each part fits together to build a framework for which projects can be conducted. My favourite parts have been performing vegetation surveys and helping teach children about the importance of wildflower meadows. It is such a wonderful feeling to know the names of the flowers, grasses, and sedges I discover at work and on my travels. I believe having a greater understanding of the world around you and the species that exist there gives you a deeper appreciation for nature and its inner workings. I hope that teaching the next generation this ethos will be the key to a greener and brighter future for all species.

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