Sandcast Meadows, Sandy
Written by: Elaine Massie
The project was to start the process of restoring the wildflower meadow. At the start of the project, the meadow was very overgrown, with stinging nettle, willow herb and thistle being the dominant species. The funding has enabled the purchase of mowing equipment and the production of a management plan. During the project, we mowed a significant proportion of the intended area, although we were hampered by poor weather and mechanical issues. Although much of the area has only had one cut, the impact is already clear with the mown areas already being significantly grassier.
In addition to the mowing and the management plan, we have also had surveys conducted for bats, barn owls and harvest mice, and approximately 300m of hedging has been planted this year, together with a small number of trees.
The project has enabled us to start the process of restoring the meadow, by funding the purchase of the mowing equipment. The change to the mown areas is already apparent.
Benefits to People
The project has enabled us to improve our skills with the mower and strimmer and also, as a result of the management plan, to give us a better understanding of the ecosystem. More widely, the project will improve the environment for the public (whilst the meadow is not open to the public, it is bordered by a public footpath with good views over the meadow).
Benefits to Heritage & Landscape
As discussed above, the mown areas of the meadow are already in a better condition, and we will continue to mow going forwards. Having a formal management plan will ensure that the land is better managed going forwards.
Whilst it is too early to detect, but the actions outlined in the management plan will inevitably lead to an improvement in biodiversity.
Challenges & Lessons learnt
The biggest challenges were the weather and mechanical issues. The meadow is a flood meadow and so it is expected to be wet, but it has been wetter than expected (not helped by some work carried out by Cadent on a gas pipeline which crosses the meadow, which appears to have made part of the meadow significantly wetter) which has limited our ability to mow. Additionally, we have had mechanical issues with the mower which have further restricted the amount of the meadow we have been able to mow.
In retrospect, we probably could have managed the mowing more efficiently and hence covered a wider area.