Saturday 7 July is National Meadows Day and to mark the occasion The National Trust has announced the purchase of wildflower-rich farmland in the Peak District
The hay meadows and wildlife-rich grasslands cover 460 acres (equivalent to 260 football pitches) and are vital habitats for birds, butterflies and bees. The intensification of farming since the second-world-war has seen the percentage of meadows in the UK drop by 97%. This and other farmland purchases by the Trust are significant for native wildlife as they now offer a potential lifeline for plunging populations.
The National Trust has revealed that this is their largest farm land acquisition since buying Trevose Head in Cornwall in 2016, with the £2.15 million buy and other similar purchases made possible thanks to legacies left to the Trust by generous supporters.
The nature friendly landscape includes two farms; 198 acres at High Fields, Stoney Middleton and 262 acres at Greensides near Buxton. Both are home to the most diverse range of grasses and flowers, plus an enormous range of insects and invertebrates, small mammals and birds, creating an eco-system that supports a complete food web.
Jon Stewart, General Manager for the National Trust in the Peak District said: “Both farms support unusually large areas of hay meadows and flower rich grassland which are not just beautiful to look at, but are important habitats for wild plants and insects in particular.
“This is testament to the generations of farmers that have cared for them, farming them traditionally and in tune with nature.
“Whilst we cannot be certain of the impact of post-Brexit support for farming and land management, we do know the White Peak is an area that could be farmed more intensively; and by buying this land we have the opportunity to conserve and enhance what is there and work with other farmers and land managers to contribute to caring for the wider landscape and ensuring connectivity.”
The unusual geology of the White Peak landscape and its acidic, neutral and calcareous soils provides the ideal conditions for a huge variety of flora to thrive to include the vibrant early purple orchid; yellow mountain pansy; buttery yellow cowslips; bright yellow common rock rose; frothy white pignut and dark purpley/blue bilberries.
These in turn make the perfect home for many different invertebrates such as bees and butterflies like the common blue; birds such as meadow pipits and skylarks and other animals such as brown hare and the protected great crested newt.
To find out more about the National Trust go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
Photo credit: Dark green fritillary in the White Peak – Michael Scott & Caters