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Glorious Cotswold Grasslands

 

Glorious Cotswold Grasslands began in 2019 as an exciting and ambitious 3-year project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to create the largest network of wildflower-rich Jurassic limestone grassland in the country, but has proven so successful that we are continuing the programme indefinitely.

Building on the legacy of the Save our Magnificent Meadows project in the Cotswolds, the aim was to secure the long term management of these precious grasslands through farming and community engagement, alongside practical and educational activity. From 2019-2022 we initiated restoration work on over 200 hectares of land throughout the Cotswold National Landscape, more than doubling the original target – an amazing achievement. In 2021 we entered into a partnership with Severn Trent Water as part of their Great Big Nature Boost and this funding, combined with several other potential funding sources has enabled the Cotswold National Landscape to move the project onto a permanent footing, meaning we will be working to restore Cotswolds grassland for many years to come.

The background – habitat loss

In the 1930s, 40% of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was covered in wildflower-rich grassland. This habitat was abundant with beautiful wildflowers, and supported a vast diversity of wildlife, including rare wildflowers such as the beautiful Pasqueflower and a huge variety of invertebrates and all the birds and mammals that depend on them. Wildflower grasslands are particularly important for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, including many rare species such as the Chalkhill Blue and Duke of Burgundy. Sadly, agricultural intensification and changing land management practices have led to the loss of almost all this wildflower grassland…less than 1.5% remains.

Limestone grassland must be managed to be maintained. Without sensitive grazing, grassland areas revert to invasive scrub. We work with a range of landowners, land managers, and other organisations to try and ensure that grassland sites in the Cotswolds are carefully looked after.

The future – habitat restoration

Through careful management it is possible to restore previously ‘improved’ grasslands and create new species-rich grasslands. Using seed collected by our brush seed harvester we can over-seed existing grassland or land previously used for arable farming to increase the floristic diversity of such sites with wildflowers of local provenance and genetics. We are able to work with a range of organisations including large and small private landowners and managers, conservation charities, local authorities, parish councils and schools.

Want to help us continue to thrive? Donate below!

Donate to the Cotswolds Conservation Board


Landowners and managers

Do you own or manage some grassland?

Encouraging species-rich wildflower grassland offers benefits to you, your livestock, and the wider environment. We provide advice on grassland management best practice and techniques, and funding to restore or create wildflower grassland.

For 2024, we now have funding available to cover both the capital costs of restoring wildflower grassland and the long-term management of grasslands for 30 years.

If you’re interested in hearing Anna and Lorna talk more about the programme, the financing options for grassland habitat management, and how you can get involved, click here to watch a recorded presentation.

Please do get in touch with Anna and Lorna at grasslands@cotswolds-nl.org.uk for advice on your grassland restoration plans, to find out more about our funding, or to arrange a free site visit.

Contact Us

In the meantime please download our Glorious Cotswold Grasslands Advice Pack for guidance on many of these issues.


Events

As part of our engagement work, we aim to run a number of events throughout the year, news of which will be posted here. These will include guided walks, events and festivals, and equine and landowner workshops. As these are finalised they will be listed below. For courses marked * please email Anna (anna.field@cotswolds-nl.org.uk) to register an interest or for further details.

When?
What?
Where?
Monday 24 June 2024 Wildflower Identification Day Whittington Lodge Farm, near Cheltenham
More information and booking here.
Saturday 6 July 2024 National Meadows Day Location TBC: watch this space

Seed giveaway

Have you been given some of our special Glorious Cotswold Grasslands seed mix at one of our events?


Newsletters


Free schools art pack

During our arts competition in 2021, we produced a fun, colourful, and engaging arts pack for Key Stages 1 & 2 to help school children and learn all about wildflower meadows. Download the free schools art pack here.

Illustrated graphic for GCG art pack


Volunteer with us

Can you spare a few hours to help our wildflowers and other wildlife?

Our Glorious Cotswolds Grasslands team are always looking for volunteers to help with our work.

    • Do you have a love for wildflowers? During the spring and summer we are always looking for help with botanical surveys of our sites.
    • Or would you prefer to help at one of our seed harvesting days in July and August?
    • Or want to keep fit? Join our autumn/winter Wednesday habitat management group.

No experience required, and all essentials (including tea and cake!) will be provided

Get involved

Just some of the work undertaken by our grasslands volunteers

Volunteers clearing dead growth off a field with a small fire burning on a frosty sunny morning3 Volunteers clearing sythed grass on a hill side with blue skies above.Photo of grassland flowers - a haze of pink, purple, yellow and green field with blue skies above Volunteer kneeling on a slope undertaking a botanical survey, with yellow flowers stretching out in front along a lush green field surrounded by treesOne of the team members brushcutting in a field wearing orange protective helmet and gloves


Meet our team

Graphic abstract style illustration of a wildflower

Vacancy

We are currently recruiting for a Glorious Cotswold Grasslands Programme Assistant. Please see the vacancies page for more information.

grasslands@cotswolds-nl.org.uk

Image of Anna Field standing outside in the sunshine. She is wearing a grey cap and hoodie and her hair is loose.

Anna Field

Anna Field is our Glorious Cotswold Grasslands Programme Officer. She is a trained ecologist with a wide variety of experience of botanical, invertebrate, and ornithological surveys and practical habitat conservation in the Cotswolds.

07801 656158
anna.field@cotswolds-nl.org.uk

Lorna Baggett

Lorna Baggett is our Biodiversity Net Gain Programme Officer, and works closely alongside Harvey and Anna. Lorna takes the lead on the new Biodiversity Net Gain project – in partnership with the National Trust and funded by National Highways.

07742 809026
lorna.baggett@cotswolds-nl.org.uk