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Fen restoration is horse-play at Loch of Strathbeg

Last modified: 13 June 2014

Image: Andy Hay

Work is being stepped-up to restore a fen meadow at a local nature reserve, thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) backed project.

The project, called Save our Magnificent Meadows, aims to save the UK’s remaining wildflower-rich meadows and grasslands. Plantlife is co-ordinating the programme of work with local partners, one of which is the RSPB Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve in Aberdeenshire.

“We are thrilled to be part of this incredibly ambitious project. The fen meadow at the reserve has been largely unmanaged for the last 50-60 years and has become dominated by soft rush. We have had Konik ponies for over three years now and they have made a good start at removing the rushes. The ponies eat the rush making room for smaller, more delicate flowering plants” said Richard Humpidge, site manager at Loch of Strathbeg.

“Support from Save our Magnificent Meadows, over the next three years, will allow us to hire specialist contractors to come and cut the rush, maximising the impact of the ponies and the benefits for nature. It will also allow us to involve visitors and the local community hopefully inspiring an appreciation of wildflower meadows, grasslands and the wildlife that lives there.”

Save our Magnificent Meadows is the UK’s largest partnership project, which will protect, conserve and restore wildflower meadows and other grasslands across the UK. It will focus on the Fermanagh grasslands of Northern Ireland, the pastures of west Wales, Scottish grasslands from Edinburgh to Aberdeenshire, the calaminarian and whin grasslands of Northumberland and traditional meadows and pastures in southern England. Led by Plantlife, the partnership is made up of 11 organisations, including RSPB Scotland, and is primarily funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

Nicola Hutchinson from Plantlife said: “For the conservation of grassland plants and other wildlife this is incredible news.  Our aim all along has been to establish a programme and a profile for the 'Cinderella of the conservation world'.  There has never been a grassland programme of this scale or ambition before and it is an amazing opportunity for Plantlife, for the project partners, for all the beneficiaries of the project and for grassland wildlife.”

People are encouraged to visit RSPB Loch of Strathbeg to find out more about the project. There is also an opportunity for a preview tomorrow (Friday 13 June) when BBC Two’s Landward programme will feature the ponies’ contribution to restoring the fen meadow at the reserve and the wider project.

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