Why Meadows Matter?
Meadows have almost completely disapeared from the British Landscape. Why does this matter? Well, it matters becasue we have lost; "not just an attractive and species rich habitat, a part of the culture and traditons of the country, but also a source of happiness, inspiration, and awareness of the environment."
George Peterken, OBE
5 Reasons why Meadows are Invaluable
A Home for Pollinators
Since the 1930s Britain has lost 99% of its wildflower meadows, 2 out of every 3 have been lost since the 1980s. Also since the 1980s, Britain has lost more than 3/4 of its insect biomass, we believe that these negative trends correlate, and hence that the health of meadows and pollinators are interconnected.
Meadows provide habitat for a vast range of fauna; including a plethora of insects whose lives depend, solely, on specific meadow flowers. Take the common blue butterfly, for example, which relies on bird's-foot- trefoil as a crucial food source for their caterpillars.
Carbon Capturers and Flood Protectors
Meadows are one of the world's best carbon sinks storing up to 4.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. In contrast, it takes a single tree 100 years to store 1 ton of carbon dioxide. Additionally, meadows are flood managers, they absorb vast quantities of water thanks to their less compact permeable soil.
Meadows provide a grass crop that needs to be harvested. Meadow grass is rich and plentiful in nutrients and minerals; which are key to increasing the benefits of fodder for our livestock. Hence, meadows could help ameliorate the poorer diet found in much of our livestock whilst simultaneously increasing biodiversity.
Although it is now all but forgotten, meadows have been integral in British culture for as long as that culture has been in existence. Perhaps, John Lewis-Stempel puts it best in his book, 'Meadowland'; "Many of the plants in a traditional meadow, which was cut late and then grazed by small numbers of cattle and sheep, did not have a direct agricultural food value, but, they preserved the balance of nutrients, and provided wildlife with sustenance. Didn't they also make Britain special? When Khaki men on the Somme or in Burmese jungles thought of their homeland, did they not picture wildflower-strewn meadows, with cottages and rolling hills?"