South Pennine Grasslands : A Case for conservation

The value of grasslands in the South Pennines is increasingly being recognised. A workshop attended by 40 volunteers and officers was hosted by the National Trust on the 4th October 2017 in Hardcastle Cargs. We have in the South Pennines grasslands that contain waxcaps that are of international importance and yet little recognised. We looked at the state of South Pennine grasslands and considered a case for conservation.


In-bye land , haymeadows and pasture bounded by traditional dry stone walls are part of what makes the South Pennine landscape so distinctive. They have sustained farming in the South Pennines for centuries. However, nationally over 90% of flower-rich meadows have been lost in England since the Second World War to agricultural improvement. Here in the South Pennines hay meadows tend to be intensively managed for silage, although recent initiatives have sought to restore or protect flower rich grassland important for birds, pollinators and waxcaps.

Lancashire Wildlife Trust manages the South Pennine Grassland Project seeking to create 50 hectares of new flower rich grassland by 2019 mostly in Lancashire.
Download Philip Redell’s presentation on the South Pennine Grassland project managed by Lancashire Wildlife Trust

The Birds………………

The Twite (or Pennine Finch) is on the IUCN red list for threatened species. South Pennine flower-rich meadows are the feeding areas for the last remaining Twite in England. The Twite Recovery Project managed by the RSPB and Natural England has worked with over 60 landowners since 2010 to protect and restore nearly 500 hectares of hay meadow close to Twite colonies.
Download Katie Aspin’s presentation on the RSPB Twite Recovery Project in the South Pennines

The Bees……

Flower-rich grassland is critical to supporting pollinator populations. Buglife – the invertebrate conservation trust are seeking to promote networks that seek to link grassland habitats and corridors.
Download Paul Evans Buglife presentation

Please make the ‘Pollinator Promise’ and promote it to others – encouraging them to sign it and pass on the word as well.
Pollinator promise

Buglife has produced new guidance for local authorities on producing a ‘Local Pollinator Action Plan’ – Pollinator Action Plan

…and the waxcaps…

Waxcap grassland is a term coined to describe nutrient-poor, well grazed grassland that is rich in grassland fungi, particularly waxcap (Hygrocybe) species. Recent surveys by Natural England have identified the Calder Valley as an area of significant national interest for waxcaps. Natural England is interested in looking at fungi across the valley engaging landowners and raising awareness in the wider community.
Download Andy McLay’s ( Natural England) presentation on waxcap grasslands

Over the coming months South Pennine Local Nature Partnership will be exploring how we can take this agenda forward. Do feel free to contact us.