Friends of Nidderdale AONB have made a productive start in the first year of their Pollinator Pathways Project restoring 26.55 ha of their 43.5 ha target. That’s an area equivalent to 212 Olympic sized swimming pools, which will soon be filled with wildflowers, bees and butterflies. Species-rich grassland has declined across the AONB, with wildflowers lost through increased fertiliser applications, earlier cutting dates and the predominance of silage cutting over the traditional hay cut. Once the wildflowers in a field have been lost it is difficult for them to recover on their own, so the Pollinator Pathways Project helps farmers who want to see wildflowers return to their fields to source wildflower seed.
This Biffa Award-funded project has made use of seed collected from local species-rich meadows, either collected using a brush harvester and dried before use, or transferred directly as green hay straight from one field to the next using a forage harvester and a muck spreader. This is a very cost-effective way of sourcing seed and also ensures that plants will be suited to local weather and soil conditions. Commercially harvested seed has also been used to introduce species which are rare in the AONB and can’t be collected locally in sufficient numbers. The hope is that the establishment of these rarer species with Biffa Award funding will provide a sustainable local seed source for future projects.
Kelly Harmar, Nidderdale AONB Biodiversity Project Officer, said, “We are delighted to have had such a successful start to the Pollinator Pathways Project. I would like to thank the farmers for generously taking part in the project and for undertaking to manage the meadows in the future. I would also like to thank our local contractors, DTMS, for their skilled work.”
Heather Garnett, Chair of Friends of Nidderdale AONB, said, “We have had a fantastic start to the project, achieving more than half our target in one year. We look forward to watching the meadow flowers develop over the coming years and to seeing the pollinators return.”