Hello my name is Sarah Jones and I am the Meadows and Grasslands Trainee on the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project here at Llanerchaeron. The project is funded by the wonderful Heritage Lottery Fund and led by Plantlife. Save Our Magnificent Meadows Project is a 3 year long project and we are currently in our first year – exciting times! My trainee position is for the first 12 months so I get to help get the project off to a flying start.
So why is this project important? Well over the years our hay meadows and grasslands have fallen in to a sorry state, today only 2% of the meadows that existed in the 1930s remain. That means nearly 7.5million acres of wildflower meadows have been lost so far and are still being destroyed. The project plans to change this by protecting, conserving and restoring wildflower meadows and other grasslands across the UK. We are doing this so children are once again able to run through a colourful hay meadow like you might have in your childhood, or you as a family can enjoy searching for the butterflies, grasshoppers and other insects while munching on a picnic or seek inspiration for a beautiful painting. We are working towards keeping all these special moments and others alive for generations to experience while protecting the wild flowers and habitats the meadows and grasslands support.
We are just one of ten partner organisations in the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project and a fortnight ago we were very lucky to be invited to one of the locations at Fermanagh in Northern Ireland with Ulster Wildlife Trust to meet everyone face to face who is working on the project. It is a beautiful part of the UK and we visited a number of their grassland sites during our visit. It was great to discuss what other locations are doing as part of the project and what difficulties they might have experienced and how they then overcome those difficulties. In Fermanagh they are hoping to spread seed on one of their meadows and instead of using a tractor and roller to bed in the seed, they will be holding a football game with the local community instead, how fun does that sound?
As a trainee I am learning something new every day, some members of staff here are like encyclopaedias and I have yet to catch them out on a question they are unable to answer. On a day to day basis I could be doing anything from slashing bracken down at Mwnt to completing a wild flower survey at Penbryn. I have been lucky enough to attend a number of new courses that will benefit myself and the project, for example I have recently completed a dragonfly and invertebrates course. This means I can now identify what I see out on site and can also educate any visitors I may meet out and about during the day. Working outdoors is fantastic as you get right up close to nature and can never predict what you are going to see next. For example down at our Cwm Soden meadows we were able to spot a silver – washed fritillary just resting in front of our eyes. That wouldn’t happen in an office! We have also been busy setting up test sites at Mwnt to try and find out a little more about what is the best way to control bracken. At the moment bracken is proving to be a bit of a challenge controlling but we are hoping to change that as part of the project. We have tried bruising and slashing on our test sites, we’ll let you know our results next year.
A great deal of the work we plan to complete during the project will depend highly on volunteers, and that’s where you come in. On Wednesday October the 15th we are holding a volunteer taster day at Llanerchaeron starting at 10a.m – 4p.m. If you come along you will be able to find out more about our ‘Save Our Magnificent Meadows’ and the role of a volunteer within the project. There will also be some yummy tea and biscuits! If you think you are not suitable for volunteering outside think again, all we ask is that you have a passion for conservation and enjoy manual work. Volunteering with the National Trust has a number of advantages, to name a few we will help you develop new skills, meet new friends and take you to some of the most breath taking places Ceredigion has to offer. Also while volunteering you are doing something proactive for your environment and are helping to ensure it has a future. If you would like to attend our taster day please contact Victoria Squire the Community Engagement Officer for the project at firstname.lastname@example.org . See you soon hopefully!
For more information on the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project please follow the link below.