Grasslands are beautiful and valuable habitats that are an important part of our natural heritage.
Wildlife-rich grasslands are vital natural resources: for bees and other pollinators, and for an abundance of nature that depends on wild grasses and flowers - from butterflies to barn owls
They have inspired people for centuries and are just as essential to our economy and well-being as ancient forests, our seas and all the other critical habitats on which we depend.
Wildlife-rich grasslands are vital natural resources: for bees and other pollinators, and for an abundance of nature that depends on wild grasses and flowers - from butterflies to barn owls. They help protect our rivers from pollution, hold together healthy soils that store carbon, and enable landscapes to retain water to reduce flooding. High quality pastoral produce – such as beef and lamb- comes from livestock that graze species-rich grasslands or feed on the forage from hay meadows in the winter.
But our wildlife-rich grasslands are vanishing – and the wildlife that depends on them is under threat.
The Wildlife Trusts have been collecting information on the state of locally important grasslands in England – sites like ancient meadows, traditional pastures and road verges – all of which provide vital space for nature.
The information we have so far makes depressing reading and we are now launching a campaign calling for a halt to this catastrophic decline. Some sites have gone altogether, lost to development or ploughing. Many more have deteriorated to such an extent that the wildlife that make them special has simply disappeared and they have been “de-selected” as Local Wildlife Sites, meaning there is not enough special habitat left to justify keeping the Local Wildlife Site designation.
Wildlife Trusts and charities like Plantlife are working with farmers and landowners to care for these special places (for example on projects like Save Our Magnificent Meadows and Coronation Meadows) but the pace of decline is faster than the rate at which these habitats can be restored.