Meadows are a jewel in nature’s crown; a place of sublime beauty, colour, scents and sounds, where wildlife can thrive. But did you know our meadows also play an important role in the fight against climate change by storing carbon? Could you help restore the UK’s meadows? Together we can restore more than 100,000 hectares of meadows in the next 10 years.
Over the next critical decade we need to reduce greenhouse gases to slow global warming and help nature’s recovery. Our wildlife-rich meadows have huge potential in the fight against climate change, biodiversity loss and for all our well-being yet now cover less than 1% of the UK.
Plants are powerful and their capacity to lock away carbon in the soil can help stabilise our warming world. But they need our help to return to peak health. Species-rich meadows store significantly more carbon than fields of pure grass and, globally, a third of the carbon stored in the earth is stored in grasslands. Supporting the restoration and creation of species-rich meadows is one way you can help nature and the climate today.
In the height of summer there can be an astonishing 570 flowers per metre square, equivalent to nine million blooms in a small three-acre meadow. From cuckooflowers to cowslips, oxeye daisies to yellow rattle, quaking-grass to meadow foxtail and the colourful waxcap fungi that appear with autumn, meadows are incredibly diverse, bringing pleasure and supporting wildlife throughout the seasons.
Meadows are micro-cities of life, with dense vegetation supporting a large network of other wildlife. Pollinators like bees and butterflies thrive in meadows, feasting on nectar and pollen and making sure flowers come back year after year - helping feed both livestock and, by extension, us. Insects, from grasshoppers to beetles to bugs make their homes here, in turn supporting wildlife such as swallows and skylarks.
But in the last 100 years, the UK alone has lost 97% of its meadows and other species-rich grasslands. We’ve seen a 60% decrease in biodiversity. A third of bumblebee species are under threat of extinction, and 70% of butterfly species have seen populations decline since the 1970s.
Our Grasslands+ campaign saw Plantlife, alongside Butterfly Conservation and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, campaign for governments meeting at COP26 (UN’s climate change conference) to recognise and protect grasslands as the powerhouses they are. With your support, our voice was too loud to ignore and many organisations and politicians joined the campaign.
Now we need to support communities on the ground who are passionate about protecting and restoring our natural world. You can help make a difference.
With your support, we will work with them to restore meadows by providing training, advice, surveys, preparing the land and spreading green hay or seed. This work will help communities connect with local meadows and will offer opportunities to experience the huge well-being benefits that meadows can bring.
Meadows are disappearing fast. The steady and under-reported decline of meadows is one of the biggest tragedies in the history of UK nature conservation. We need to act now to increase the scale and pace of meadow restoration, to support their soils, plants and fungi, and to tackle climate change.