June 14, 2008

Meadow Works to Boost Wildlife

The Environment Agency is making hay to ensure a rare conservation area on the edge of York continues to attract wildlife and has a healthy eco system.

Rawcliffe Meadows is a floodplain meadow of the sort which has declined by more than 95 per cent in England and Wales since the Second World War, mainly due to intensive farming methods.

The EA is removing half a hectare of nettles before adding a hay cover that should help to return the floodplain meadow to a more natural state and attract wildlife.

Biodiversity Officer Sue Penn said: "It's very important for biodiversity that we look after floodplain meadows properly. This form of habitat is a fabulous environmental resource and it's great for York to have such a rare green space within walking distance of the city centre."

To create the new hay meadow, EA experts are removing existing turf and topsoil to adjust the nutrient balance in the soil before harrowing the land and spreading hay that's been cut nearby.

Eroded banks along the River Ouse will also be repaired and reinforced, using larch poles grown on the Duncombe Park Estate at Helmsley. Agency contractors are also digging a new ditch to aid pumping in times of flood.

Rawcliffe is home to the rare Tansy Beetle, as well as hundreds of other beetle species and many other insects, birds and animals.

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