Dunchurch Meadow restoration

A post from Ben, our Wildlife Engagement Officer, about the latest stage of the Coronation Meadows project in Warwickshire:

It was all hands on deck this week to help restore Dunchurch meadow in the village of Dunchurch on the outskirts of Rugby. The Trust’s regular army of enthusiastic conservation volunteers, or as we call them, “Nature Force” worked hard to spread freshly cut hay over the whole site in 25°c + heat.

Nature Force volunteers copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)
Nature Force volunteers copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)

The principle behind this kind of conservation work is to increase the botanical diversity of existing grassland. A suitable species-rich “donor” site is chosen (in this case Draycote Meadow SSSI) and its hay is cut when the wildflowers have gone to seed. This “green” hay is then quickly transported to the “recipient” site where it is then spread evenly.

Dunchurch Meadow hay cut prior to receiving donor hay from Draycote Meadows SSSI copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)
Dunchurch Meadow hay cut prior to receiving donor hay from Draycote Meadows SSSI copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)
Dunchurch Meadow hay cut and bailing prior to receiving donor hay from Draycote Meadows SSSI copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)
Dunchurch Meadow hay cut and bailing prior to receiving donor hay from Draycote Meadows SSSI copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)
Dunchurch Meadow hay cut and bailing prior to receiving donor hay from Draycote Meadows SSSI copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)
Dunchurch Meadow hay cut and bailing prior to receiving donor hay from Draycote Meadows SSSI copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)
Hay from Draycote Meadows SSSI arrives at Dunchurch Meadow copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)
Hay from Draycote Meadows SSSI arrives at Dunchurch Meadow copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)

The key to this process is to spread the valuable wildflower seeds found within the hay as quickly as possible in order ensure they won’t overheat and will still remain viable.

Yellow rattle copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)
Yellow rattle copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)

Despite the hard work involved spirits where very high as team of volunteers and Trust staff worked throughout the day to finish the activity.

Hay from Draycote Meadows SSSI arrives at Dunchurch Meadow - the hay bails are unrolled copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)
Hay from Draycote Meadows SSSI arrives at Dunchurch Meadow – the hay bails are unrolled copyright Karl Curtis (WWT)
Unrolling the hay copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)
Unrolling the hay copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)
Copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)
Copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)
Copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)
Copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)
Copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)
Copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)

The Wildlife Trusts are passionate about restoring wildflower-rich meadows, a uniquely precious habitat of which we only have around 5% still remaining. These habitats are a symbol of the British countryside and they support nationally scarce and declining species of flowering plants, as well as associated insect fauna and other communities of animals.

This initiative wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Biffa Award and the Coronation Meadows partnership (Plantlife, The Rare Breeds Survival Trust and The Wildlife Trusts).  We would like to give a huge thank you to all of these organisations and those individuals that volunteered to make this valuable work possible.

Dunchurch Meadow Panorama copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)
Dunchurch Meadow Panorama copyright Steven Cheshire (WWT)

Ben

You can see the rest of the photos from the day on Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Flickr page, and if you’re interested in volunteering with Nature Force then please click here.

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