Over the charity’s 23 years in operation, we have worked in partnership with a variety of landowners and organisations including Wessex Water, Bristol Water, Manchester City Council, The Mersey Forest, and City of Trees to name just a few. Through these partnerships we as a charity have learnt to be adaptive and flexible, especially as landowner needs can change overtime, driven by the climate and biodiversity crisis, and this way of working cannot be illustrated in any better way than by highlighting the partnership that has formed around the Community Wildflower Meadows at the Crook o’Lune.
Working with Lancashire County Council (LCC), The Forest of Bowland AONB and the Community Pollinator Patch Planters, together we have taken a community driven change in grassland management policy and created high value biodiversity gains in a priority landscape.
The backstory to this change started in 2012 when we were approached by LCC and some enthusiastic residents, who had a drive to change the grassland management at the picnic site, where a 3-acre field which our memorial forest boarders, had traditionally been managed as a close-cut amenity field for decades. The local community and LCC wanted to change the field from a “green desert”, surrounded by farmland into a thriving diverse wildflower meadow.
With the direction set the next hurdles for us as a charity was gaining the knowledge on how to make this happen and how we would manage the project for the long term from a financial point of view.
This is where a willingness to work together with others has really paid off, as we were introduced by LCC to organisations and people who not only have the knowledge and experience the project needed but also the same desire to work together.
With some of hurdles overcome and with a donation of yellow rattle seed from The Forest of Bowland AONB’s Hay-time Meadows Project officer Sarah Robinson, who also lent her huge wealth of knowledge and with the determination of Erica Sarney of The Community Pollinator Patch Planters, the project commenced in 2012 with the field being closely cut and collected one last time by a local farming contractor, Conder and then chain harrowed using the charity’s small compact tractor. After this the volunteers for the local community set to work sowing the seed by hand.
Now, 10 years on, surveys by The Forest of Bowland AONB “Bumble Bee” monitoring team recorded a successful increase in Bumble Bee active on the site with 230 bees recorded per 1000m2 and six different species of bee recorded1.
The legacy of this project is that Life for a Life and the Community Pollinator Patch Planters continue to manage the wildflower meadow and The Forest of Bowland AONB continue to check and advise. The latest plant survey recorded that the once “green desert” is now a thriving meadow consisting of yellow rattle, cow parsley, knapweed, buttercup, and stitchwort. The planting of extra seed has been funded by donations of from The Forest of Bowland AONB is undertaken by the community with the end of season meadow cutting undertaken and funded by Life for a Life and has meant that this transformation as been achieve with very little capital inputs and has been free for the land landowner LCC.
The partnerships forged at the Crook o’Lune have also led to other sites being brought into long-term management for LCC, with the Community Knapweed Triangle at Caton now lovingly cared for each year together with the Community Pollinator Patch Planters and the meadows at the Scorton Picnic Site, where there is another Life for a Life Memorial Forest being cared for with help and advice of Sarah from the The Forest of Bowland AONB.
1Edmondson, C. (2019) “Bumblebee monitoring in hay meadows across the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland AONB”, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust |The Forest of Bowland AONB.)