In this month’s sustainability story, we’re excited to be able to share a project update from our partners at Ecologi—and this time, it’s a project that’s particularly close to home. At Natusan we’re passionate about protecting the planet, which is why we partner with Ecologi to plant a tree for every single order. But Ecologi does so much more than planting trees, and their newest project is the creation and regeneration of wildflower meadows in Scotland!
What’s going on with the UK’s wildflower meadows?
The charity organisation Plantlife estimates that 97% of the UK’s wildflower meadows have disappeared since the 1930s. In the first half of the 20th century, wild areas of grassland filled with a mix of colourful wildflowers would have been a common sight across the UK. Over the last century, however, huge demand for urban development and with the intensification of farming (not to mention our preference for manicured lawns and parks) have seen the traditional meadows decimated, with devastating consequences for wildlife and native wildflower species.
Why are wildflower meadows so important?
Wildflower meadows are important for two main reasons: biodiversity, and soil health.
A healthy wildflower meadow can be home to more than 100 species of flower, and in turn these flowers are the food of choice for countless insects. Plantlife estimates that the UK’s most common meadow plants are eaten by 1370 different insect species! These pollinating insects are dependent upon the flowers, and this in turn creates a rich ecosystem of not only flowers and insects, but birds and mammals too. Disappearing wildflowers have a huge knock-on effect for all the other wildlife in this delicate ecosystem.
And it’s not just the flora and fauna that are affected. The presence of native wildflower species can help to stabilise soils, preventing degradation and erosion caused by weather. Healthy soils are vital, both for providing organisms with the nutrients they need to survive, but also because they retain carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. UK grassland soil holds a huge store of carbon, so it’s vital that these areas are protected.
What is Ecologi doing?
Ecologi is funding two different projects on two different types of land: wildflower meadow creation, and wildflower habitat regeneration.
Wildflower meadow creation will involve turning areas of improved grassland that have previously been used for animal grazing into more biodiverse meadow, planting a seed mix sourced in Scotland that’s full of wildflowers and grasses.
Their second project, the regeneration of wildflower habitat, will see them taking areas of degraded grassland and introducing plug-plants. Plug-plants are young plants that have been grown from seeds in nurseries, often during the colder months, so that they’re ready to be planted in spring. These young plants will include many species of wildflower that Plantlife lists as particularly endangered, including ragged robin.
How will it make a difference?
These projects will have a huge impact on biodiversity. Many of the current sites have less than 5 plant species per square metre, whereas a healthy wildflower meadow should have 3-4 times this amount. By introducing a diverse mix of flowers, these meadows will also attract more pollinating insects. And, by planting native wildflowers that are particularly at risk, the projects are helping to protect these species from disappearing altogether.
The wildflowers will also protect the grasslands they’re planted in, preventing the soil’s carbon from being released and hopefully encouraging even more carbon to be stored within the healthier soils.
Find out more (and learn more about wildflowers!)
To find out more about Ecologi’s project and see some photos of beautiful wildflowers, take a look at the wildflower project on their website.
You can also learn more about wildflowers via Plantlife, which also has plenty of information and resources about plants, gardening with wildflowers, and even how to make your own wildflower meadow.
22/03/2022 by NatuTeam