The main aim of the Conserving Species-Rich Grassland project is to conserve species-rich grassland in the Westmorland Dales area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  Secondly we want to engage others in their conservation process and increase appreciation, enjoyment and understanding of the habitat.

Project lead: Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Without direct intervention species-rich grasslands would all but disappear within the next few decades. In the last 50 years species-rich grasslands such as hay meadows have declined by 97%. Despite measures to reverse this trend, losses have continued in recent years in England. 

Surveys by Cumbria Biodiversity Partnership and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology between 2007 and 2010 emphasise this threat showing continued habitat loss, fragmentation and isolation since the 1980s. They also show there is been a deterioration in quality of the remaining habitat. 

Many types of species-rich grassland such as upland and lowland hay meadows are listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan as habitats of priority conservation importance. Despite this, the vast majority of them in Cumbria have little statutory protection. Pollinating species are linked to flower-rich grasslands and have also seen significant reductions in diversity and population numbers. 

These grasslands are a product of man's use of the land over hundreds of years and as such provide a key insight into historical socio-economic culture and farming practices. In Cumbria species-rich grassland is commonly associated with small family run farms where there is empathy for their management and where the passing on of local knowledge from generation to generation is valued. Other groups (e.g. local community groups) also care about these grasslands but often in differing ways. Unfortunately many of these lack the opportunities or resources to exercise this feeling.

Purpose: To conserve and champion species-rich grassland.

Project Details: The project will deliver the following activities:

  • Restore a series of species-rich grasslands in the scheme area.
  • Organise and deliver a volunteer training programme.
  • Organise and deliver a species-rich grasslands survey and monitoring programme.
  • Organise and deliver Community Planting Days, Demonstration Days, Scything Days, Collect, Sow and Grow Days & wildflower/pollinator workshops.
  • Collecting, collating and analysing species-rich grasslands data.