Creating a traditional meadow
North Wales Wildlife Trust staff (NWWT) and volunteers recently worked with Flintshire County Council's Countryside Service to manage our coronation meadow using traditional methods.
Since 2012 the Countryside Service have worked closely with NWWT to create a coronation meadow, one of only three in the county, at County Hall. The work involved taking green hay from a traditional 'donor' meadow and spreading it over the meadow site. Each year the area is cut late using traditional scything techniques as part of volunteer workshops run by NWWT. The cuttings are collected for hay or composted. The results have made a positive change for biodiversity with an increase in local provenance wildflowers such as yellow rattle and knapweed. Recent management work has revealed that the area is used by small mammals, amphibians and a number of invertebrate species, a clear improvement on the mown grass that was present before the establishment of the meadow.
To establish and sustain native wildflowers which have maximum benefit for wildlife and aesthetic value for people, the correct long term management is needed. This involves a late cut and collection of the cuttings. It is also important to have a variety of management techniques across the landscape to allow different wildflower species to thrive using the correct equipment, perseverance and time.
Through a variety of grant funded and partnership projects, a number of different approaches to wildflower area creation and management have been trialled by the Countryside Service as an alternative to the usual 'engineered' annual wildflower areas which, although often having a stunning visual impact, rely on regular re-creation. Alongside tree planting, areas of amenity grassland and road verges have been allowed to grow longer for the summer with a later cut to allow grasses and flowers to grow throughout the season. This approach has incorporated necessary and essential maintenance work to ensure there is no impact on highway safety.
Using pre-grown wildflower turf containing perennial native wildflowers, the Council's Access and Natural Environment Team are working to reduce our dependency on weed killers where there may be opportunities to introduce wildflowers in areas which have traditionally been planted with bedding plants.
All of these approaches are undertaken with longer term sustainability and biodiversity benefit in mind and future projects in partnership with the North and Mid-Wales Trunk Road Agency, Denbighshire County Council and NWWT are being considered.
Cllr. Carolyn Thomas, Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Countryside said;
“This is fantastic work by our Countryside Service and it is lovely to see the long grass and wild flowers in the verges, buzzing with life. It is great that there are local opportunities for our community to learn about traditional management methods for meadows and for the Access and Natural Environment Team to explore different approaches to ensure best results. It is more important now that we manage our natural environment for the sustainability of our biodiversity and using such varied approaches to meadow management is an excellent way of doing so."