A hay meadow strewn with vibrant wildflowers is an iconic image that many people associate with the Yorkshire Dales. Sadly today only a tiny percentage of these meadows remain.
Meadows for wildlife
Visually stunning and teeming with wildlife, species-rich hay meadows are of high nature conservation and landscape value. A traditionally managed meadow can support up to 120 different species of wildflowers and other plants, as well as many species of invertebrates, bats, mammals and birds. Hay meadows are a vital habitat for bees but many species of bumblebee are in decline and some have already become extinct.
Meadows for culture
Hay meadows are also an important part of our rural and cultural heritage. A meadow is a settlement’s living link to the past and may be older than the oldest building, so the loss of a hay meadow constitutes the loss of an historical place as much as a wildlife habitat and landscape feature.
The future of our meadows
Over the last fifty years or so, some 97% of meadows in the UK have been lost, largely due to modern, intensive farming methods.
The Yorkshire Dales still have some of the best hay meadows in the UK which is why YDMT, in partnership with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, has been working hard to conserve and restore these complex ecosystems and protect the wildlife they support.
The Hay Time project initially ran from 2006 to 2011, but we secured further funding to carry on the work until October 2014. Now the project is continuing thanks to generous supporters who have donated to the Hay Time Appeal.