Exmoor’s first meadows day promotes conservation efforts

The picturesque landscapes of Exmoor will come alive when the region prepares to host its first-ever Meadows Day. The event on Saturday, July 1, at White Rocks Cottage in Simonsbath is being organised in conjunction with National Meadows Day and promises a day of enlightening talks and captivating walks through the meadows of the Exmoor Forest Estate Spearheaded by The Exmoor Society, Exmoor National Park Authority’s Sowing the Seeds Project, and FWAG South West, Meadows Day aims to raise awareness about the importance of preserving and managing wildflower-rich meadows. Visitors will have the opportunity to listen to farming and wildlife experts who will share their knowledge on creating and maintaining these habitats. Additionally, attendees can witness first hand the array of insects that call these meadows their home. The day’s agenda includes half-hour talks at 11am and 2pm followed by guided walks, allowing participants to immerse themselves in the wonders of Exmoor’s natural landscapes.

Project officer Lucy Cornwall from Sowing the Seeds said: “The need to protect meadows has become increasingly urgent as 97 per cent of these invaluable habitats have been lost since the 1930s. “Ravaged by development, neglect, or transformed into pastures where only a handful of plant species survive, the consequences extend beyond the plight of pollinators. Countless other species, including beetles, grasshoppers, ladybirds, snails, aphids, weevils, and shield bugs, suffer from the destruction of their habitat.“ For instance, the birds foot trefoil, a common meadow plant, serves as a crucial food source for over 130 invertebrates. As these species vanish, so too do the birds and mammals that rely on them for sustenance.

“However, a movement is underway to reverse this alarming trend. Farmers, landowners, and gardeners are rallying to safeguard the remaining meadows and resurrect those that have been lost. Meadows Day serves as a testament to the achievements at Simonsbath and provides valuable insights on how individuals can contribute to this vital cause. For those seeking further guidance, the Sowing the Seeds team, a collaborative effort between Exmoor National Park, FWAG South West, and the Devon Wildlife Trust, will be present to offer their support and expertise.” She continued: “Exmoor has some amazing species-rich grassland, but our plan is to expand its reach. We have the seeds, we have the knowledge, and now all we need is for people to reach out and ask for our support.”