PRESS RELEASE
Monday 16th May 2022

APPEAL LAUNCHED TO CREATE MOOR MEADOWS

A new CareMoor for Exmoor appeal has launched to help raise funds for meadow creation in the National Park. It follows a 97 per cent drop in wildflower meadows nationwide since the second world war.

Meadows provide important food and homes for a diverse range of species, including many pollinator insects, small mammals, bats and birds, and are a rich carbon store. They help improve connectivity between habitats and can be a valuable source of forage for livestock, supporting traditional skills such as haymaking.

Donations to the appeal will support the new Exmoor Sowing the Seeds project - a collaboration between Exmoor National Park Authority (NPA), FWAG South West and Devon Wildlife Trust, with support from South West Water and Natural England, to collect and distribute wildflower seed locally.

Heather Harley, Conservation Officer for Farming and Land Management at Exmoor NPA, said: “This appeal is about recognising that wildflower meadows are an absolute powerhouse of our countryside. We know from recent surveys that many farmers really value this, and the response so far has been brilliant. But farms are only part of the picture; we need more wildflowers growing on road verges, village greens, churchyards and in school grounds. Our work will help network those cultivating wildflower seed and those who have land, with donations from the public needed to fund vital equipment, habitat surveys and training. We simply can’t do this without that wider groundswell of support.”

The pilot stage of the project has seen 30kg of seed collected and distributed across five different landholdings on Exmoor. This has so far enabled the restoration of over 11 acres of meadow as part of a wider aspiration to create a network of ‘nature corridors and highways’ across the National Park, including 1,500 hectares of additional wildflower meadows.

Just under three per cent of Exmoor currently qualifies as species-rich grassland, which attracts a multitude of wildlife and often supports flora and fauna that cannot thrive in other habitats. Typically characterised by species such as black knapweed, ox-eye daisy, yellow rattle, hawkbits, vetches and rarer orchids, they can also support colourful waxcap fungi with names such as parrot, snowy and crimson. As well as being beautiful to look at, flower-rich meadows are ecologically important as they provide areas for pollinating insects, nesting, food gathering, shelter and even animal courtship displays.

Rob Wilson-North, Head of Conservation and Access at Exmoor NPA, added: “Our wildflower meadows were once a crucial part of the farming calendar and are part of our farming heritage. Restoring them will help to bolster vital populations of pollinating insects, plus we can all benefit from the incredible summer displays of colour and the sense of wellbeing people get from being so close to these enriching displays of nature.

“Where we do still have ancient grassland habitats, they are often fragmented, so we also need to think about the bigger picture and making it easier for wildlife to move through the landscape to build resilience and aid adaptation to climate change.

"In times of hardship for everybody, we’re especially grateful for any donations people can make towards bringing back wildflower meadows to our beautiful landscape.”

Donations to the appeal can be made in National Park Centres in Lynmouth, Dunster or Dulverton or online at www.exmoor-national-park.gov.uk/caremoor.

Anyone interested in meadow creation, at any scale, and also people with existing flower-rich meadows who might be interested in becoming a donor site, are very welcome to contact the Exmoor Sowing the Seeds Project at naturerecovery@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or sign up for free to join the Exmoor Meadow-Makers Forum at https://forum.moremeadows.org.uk.
ENDS
For media enquiries contact:
Ailsa Stevens, Communications Officer
T: 07772 092128
Download images of seed collection at Higher Blacklands farm <<here>> 

Notes to editors

About Exmoor National Park Authority

First designated in 1954, Exmoor National Park has an amazing variety of landscapes within its 267 square miles – stunning coast, moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland and more than 800 miles of rights of way to enjoy. It is one of 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom and in 2011 was designated Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve.

Exmoor National Park Authority works in partnership with the community, local councils, businesses and other organisations to look after the National Park and promote its conservation and enjoyment. Donations to CareMoor for Exmoor are gratefully received towards the upkeep of the National Park and its special qualities.