4th June 2013
“The sixtieth anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation; what better excuse for a concerted effort to begin the creation of at least one meadow in each county?”
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
“When my father was young he could walk the entire way from Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham, a 23-mile journey, through orchid-rich meadows and grasslands.’
Peter Bullard, Coronation Meadows Partnership
“97% of our wild flower rich meadows have been destroyed since the last war. If this scale of devastation had happened to our woodland, we’d be declaring a national catastrophe. Our green land, now devoid of flowers and the wildlife they support, is anything but pleasant.”
Dr Trevor Dines, Coronation Meadows Partnership
At the end of 2012, HRH The Prince of Wales suggested a remarkable nationwide project – a meadow in every county to mark the anniversary of The Queen’s coronation. The first stage of Coronation Meadows will launch at Highgrove House on Wednesday 5th June, with the announcement of the first 60 flagship meadows.
Coronation Meadows are outstanding examples of flower-rich grasslands, surviving fragments that support our wildlife and which are often the result of years of careful management by generations of one family. Many have an annual hay cut and are grazed by hardy, native breeds of livestock. Coronation Meadows reflect the local character of the landscape; Martins’ Meadow in Suffolk has green-winged orchids and meadow saffron, whilst Cae Blaen-dyffryn in Carmarthenshire has whorled caraway and thousands of lesser butterfly-orchids.
Over 80% of the 60 meadows identified can trace an undisturbed history beyond the Coronation; many are truly ancient, dating back hundreds of years. The oldest so far is Loughborough Big Meadow in Leicestershire which can be traced back to 1762. They range in size from Therfield Heath in Hertfordshire at over 400 acres (and home to the largest population of pasque flowers in Britain) to Hayton Meadow in Shropshire at just ľ of an acre. They are also home to quite astonishing displays of wild flowers – orchids, cowslips, buttercups and oxeye daisies in their thousands.
Coronation Meadows has three aims:
1. The first, the identification of a Coronation Meadow in each county, will be completed over the summer as meadows for the remaining counties are identified – there are candidates for nearly all of them.
2. The second stage is to identify sites within each county where green hay and seed from the Coronation Meadow can be used to restore or recreate new meadows, so fulfilling HRH’s original vision.
3. The final part of the project is perhaps the most ambitious – to map the UK’s remaining meadows. No such inventory currently exists (neither government nor conservation organisation has this information) but, with the help of the public, we hope to identify all the small pockets of flower-rich meadows that remain.
‘My Coronation Meadows idea came to me when I read Plantlife’s 2012 report and fully appreciated just how many wildflower meadows had been lost over the past 60 years. This year, we are celebrating my mother’s coronation so surely there is no better moment to end this destruction and to stimulate a new mood to protect our remaining meadows and to use them as springboards for the restoration of other sites and the creation of new meadows right across the UK.’
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
“His Royal Highness has given us a challenge; to conserve species and yet to maintain their essential wildness. In an age where we too often turn to the quick-fix of commercial ‘nectar mixes’, Coronation Meadows is both a celebration and a pledge to our children and grandchildren, using the floral riches of the past to create meadow gems for the future. Restoring meadows is painstaking, long-term stuff – it is about our landscape history and our cultural heritage. Many of the meadows have local significance. For example, Welsh farms often had a Cae Ysbyty or “Hospital Field”, a flower-rich pasture where sick animals would recover from illness or injury faster than on conventional pasture. This project is so resonant because it reminds us just how spectacular and wildlife-rich our countryside can look – and the results can be simply breathtaking.”
Victoria Chester, Chief Executive of Plantlife
“We are delighted that our Patron HRH the Prince of Wales is championing wildflower meadows as part of the Coronation celebrations. “Few people of my generation have ever experienced the beauty of a flower-rich meadow in full bloom. 97% of these meadows have been lost in the last century. But we are determined to ensure the next generation does have that chance. These 60 meadows are precious and irreplaceable fragments of a vital habitat. With the right care they can thrive and spread their seed to new areas helping us to revive our landscapes.”
Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts
‘His Royal Highness, our Patron, is a passionate supporter of rare native breeds of livestock and there is a close relationship between our native breeds and wild flower meadows. The ancient meadows of this country were traditionally managed in order to produce feed for livestock to carry them over the course of a long winter. Over generations, this livestock evolved traits that suited the different climates, topography, minerals and flora found in the varied landscapes across the United Kingdom. These traits developed further with selective breeding into the wide variety of breeds that we see today. In a sense the meadows shaped the animals, as the animals shaped the meadows, and their shared history is part of our valuable rural culture.”
Rob Havard, Managing Director, Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Plantlife is the organisation that is speaking up for our wild flowers, plants and fungi. From the open spaces of our nature reserves to the corridors of government, we’re here to raise their profile, to celebrate their beauty, and to protect their future.
Wild flowers and plants play a fundamental role for wildlife, and their colour and character light up our landscapes. But without our help, this priceless natural heritage is in danger of being lost. Join us in enjoying the very best that nature has to offer.
The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) wildlifetrusts.org
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK, with more than 800,000 members. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. The Wildlife Trusts’ second annual ‘Our Meadow Wildlife’ weekend takes place on 15-16 June. People are invited to discover some of the UK’s finest remaining wildflower meadows, and their amazing wildlife. Events and opportunities to enjoy the magic of the meadow can be found both through the Coronation Meadows project website and http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/weekends/meadow
Rare Breeds Survival Trust www.rbst.org.uk
RBST is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the United Kingdom’s rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. We believe in the value of the UK’s rich and varied livestock heritage and that this needs to be conserved as a vital genetic and cultural resource for future generations and the benefit of agriculture.
Linking the conservation of our traditional meadows and our native livestock highlights the role sustainable farming plays in conserving our wonderful semi-natural habitats. Join RBST and help us to save our native breeds.