National Meadows Day which is dedicated to celebrating and protecting our vanishing wildflower meadows and the wealth of wildlife they support, will take place on Saturday, July 1st 2017.
This year’s National Meadows Day promises to be the biggest yet, with activities taking place across Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.
From barefoot walks and scything workshops, to picnics and bug hunts, people will have the opportunity to experience first-hand the petalled-paradise that is a meadow in summer.
With help from Ulster Wildlife Trust, a range of family friendly events are taking place across the region:
* In Fermanagh, explore one of the county’s finest meadows - the ‘Wildflower Knoll’ – immediately adjacent to the Marble Arch Caves. Kids will have fun searching for bugs and butterflies amongst a blaze of increasingly scarce wildflowers.
* At Cottage Farm, near Omagh, find out how a former area of improved agricultural land has been restored into a glorious wildflower meadow bursting with wildlife, on a guided walk around this hidden gem with owner, Peter Archdale.
Meadows, once a feature of every townland in Northern Ireland, are now an increasingly fragile part of our national heritage but all is not lost. National Meadows Day is the perfect way to explore and enjoy the flowers and wildlife of Northern Ireland’s magnificent meadows and understand their special place in our shared social and cultural history.Claire Parton, Save Our Magnificent Meadows project manager
* At the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, in Cultra, enjoy and explore their newly created meadow, now in full bloom, established in partnership with Ulster Wildlife. Take part in the meadow challenge and see how many plants and animals you can spot.
* In the Belfast Hills, find out how grazing and wildflower meadows go hand–in-hand at Slievenacloy Nature Reserve – one of the best grasslands in Northern Ireland – and meet the beasts that allow wildlife to flourish.
* In Bangor, uncover the creepy crawlies that fly, crawl and hop amongst the meadow at Balloo Woodland and get arty with wildflower crafts.
National Meadows Day is the headline event of Save Our Magnificent Meadows, the UK’s largest partnership project transforming the fortunes of our vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife.
Plantlife, supported by money raised by National Lottery players with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), is spearheading the project.
Claire Parton, Save Our Magnificent Meadows project manager, said: “Meadows, once a feature of every townland in Northern Ireland, are now an increasingly fragile part of our national heritage but all is not lost.
“National Meadows Day is the perfect way to explore and enjoy the flowers and wildlife of Northern Ireland’s magnificent meadows and understand their special place in our shared social and cultural history.
“Beyond being a quintessential sight of summer, meadows’ value to our wildlife cannot be overstated - a single healthy meadow can be home to over 80 species of wild flowers, such as cuckoo flower, yellow rattle, orchids, knapweed and scabious, compared to most modern agricultural pasture which typically supports under a dozen species.”
Just 100 years ago there would have been a meadow in every townland, supporting a way of life that had gone on for centuries.
They provided grazing and hay for livestock, employment, and food and medicine for the parish and were part of a community’s cultural and social history.
Today, just 3% of the meadows that existed in the 1930s remain – that’s a loss of 7.5 million acres of wild flower grassland.
For more information on the events being hosted by the Ulster Wildlife Trust visit www.ulsterwidlife.org/whats-on.