Urban Wildflower Meadows Flourish During 2021

The renaissance of the wildflower meadow has been a welcome piece of good news this year. While there is still a long way to go to tackle the significant loss of biodiversity that has happened during the last century, steps are being taken in the right direction.

For example, The Guardian reported earlier this year that many city councils have introduced ‘mow less’ policies, and areas that were once manicured patches of green are now flourishing with an array of colourful wildflowers.

Some of the seeds, such as poppies, meadowsweet, and campion have sprung into action after lying dormant in the earth, and some have been deliberately sewn to create a messy and diverse botanical carpet. As well as boosting the ecosystem, the rewilding polices are cutting back on the energy and carbon emissions caused by mowing.

According to Plantlife, over 97% of meadows have been lost since the 1930s in the UK. Of the remaining 3%, most of the land is unprotected from development or change in use. However, although too much interference is damaging, too little cultivation and grazing can also cause problems.

Botanist Dr Trevor Dines said: “Total land abandonment now poses the greatest threat to plant diversity as it removes the brake on succession: left entirely to their own devices most open landscapes in the UK will change from grassland to scrub and, ultimately, to woodland as large plants reach for the light and outcompete smaller, more delicate species.”

He added: “Grazing and disturbance ‘re-set’ this ecological clock, allowing these fabulous early-succession flowers to thrive in open ground flooded with sunlight.”

Since 2013, Plantlife have created 5,000 hectares of wildflower meadows, building new habitats not just for plants, but also for the range of insects, birds, and small mammals who live in and near them. It seems public opinion has shifted in their favour too, as councils report very few complaints about unmowed verges from the public.

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