A CLAPHAM based charity has launched a project to help look after hay meadows in the Forest of Bowland.

Wildflower-rich meadows survive due to traditional farming practices, in particular the late cutting of the crop in July or August. There are a significant number of hay meadows in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Working with farmers and landowners, Carol Edmondson, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust's 'hay time project officer' based in Dunsop Bridge, will coordinate wildflower seed collections from species-rich meadows and use this seed source to enhance and restore 20 hectares of meadow that have lost some of their characteristic wildflowers over recent decades. Thousands of plug plants grown from local seed will also be planted.

She said: “'Hay time' is an important and exciting project and I am delighted to be part of it. Hay meadows are a special habitat dependent on careful farm management. I am looking forward to working closely with hay meadow farmers in the AONB and believe that by working together the future for our wonderful hay meadows will be much brighter.”

The project, set up in partnership with the AONB, builds on previous work that YDMT have been involved with in the Bowland as well as the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

A complementary aim of the project is to increase public awareness, enjoyment and understanding of the hay meadows found in the area. This will include running a series of events and activities over the summer months such as meadow-inspired art workshops and a celebration of rural crafts and meadows.