This case study comes from Chiltern Rangers, a social enterprise working with local communities to provide practical habitat management of the woodlands, chalk grassland, commons, ponds and chalk streams in the Chilterns’ area.
Chalk grassland meadows can be thought of as semi-natural habitats – they were created from woodland clearance and rely on grazing or cutting to maintain their biodiversity. Meadows have a rich flora – a healthy meadow will support over 100 species of wildflower – and a diverse invertebrate fauna including many bees and butterflies. They a rare, important and threatened habitat – it took thousands of years to create these places and in the last 100 years we have lost about 97% of them.
Urban mini-meadows are therefore hugely important. They develop into beautiful places and also help provide life-support for many invertebrates, birds and mammals. The planting up of small spaces in the Marsh and Micklefield areas of High Wycombe creates important ‘stepping stones’ of habitat, making new wildlife sites and helping to connect existing areas of grassland. We have been working on a few sites in recent weeks to create these ‘places for pollinators’.
Wrights Meadow Centre is a community centre in the heart of Wycombe Marsh. A wide, sloping verge in their grounds has always been mown as amenity grassland but with help from the local community this area has now been planted up with a mix of native wildflowers with some areas left to see what develops from the seed bank. A large mound of spoil has been planted with hedgerow trees to create a small woodland area, leaving a wide margin of nettles. We also worked with local artist Dan Wilson to create the ‘Shadows of the Meadow’ mural to help bring the project to life!
Micklefield Library Garden was reinvigorated with a community planting day. Volunteers planted a mix of native wildflowers with some annual and perennial ‘plants for pollinators’. We also planted 50 native hedgerow trees along a boundary fence and local residents with a keen interest in gardening are now helping to maintain the space.
In the Micklefield area of High Wycombe we worked with Red Kite Community Housing to convert some of their grass verges into Wildflower mini-meadows. With local volunteers we have planted around 500 wildflower plug-plants and sown plenty of wildflower seed in four areas previously mown on a regular basis throughout the year. We ensured that many of these plants were chalk grassland species such as bird’s-foot trefoil, agrimony, lady’s bedstraw and knapweed to link with our local habitat.