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  • Leading Environmentalist Slams Loss of Biodiversity as Catastrophic

    A special summer drinks party was held at Three Hagges Wood-Meadow, between Escrick and Riccall in North Yorkshire, for the sponsors and supporters of the project and their friends to see the meadow in full bloom.

    The community wood and meadow is the brainchild of Ros Forbes Adam of Skipwith Hall, near Selby.

    The main speaker was Prof David Hill CBE, chairman of Plantlife, who warned that biodiversity loss over the past 60 years in the UK “has been nothing short of catastrophic. We really do have to do something about it.”

    “The Three Hagges Wood Meadow may be small in the scheme of things but it is critically important to show what can be achieved with tenacity, willpower and passion. This is an exemplar project that can show how to scale-up landscape restoration.

    “Effective conservation will only be achieved when projects such as Three Hagges Wood-Meadow are delivered throughout the wider countryside. It is absolutely crucial to value natural capital assets. Biodiversity loss, caused largely by agriculture and development, impacts us personally, denying us the simple pleasure of nature

    “We need restoration at a massive scale if we are to address past losses. I’m therefore proposing ‘The Restoration Economy’ – a post-Brexit funding for improving the environmental performance of farming, including tax incentivisation whereby investors would receive tax relief when they invest in biodiversity restoration schemes,” said Prof Hill.

    “They received it for planting vast areas of damaging conifers in the uplands, so why wouldn’t they be able to receive it for positive action to protect natural resources?

    “The future needs mass participation in restoration schemes, funded by both the public and private sector to create markets just as we create markets for food. Overall, vision, will-power and passion are critical and Ros Forbes Adam clearly has all of these attributes in abundance,” said Prof Hill.

    Ros Forbes Adam stressed that the loss of treasured wildlife was man-made and could be reversed by man

    “By establishing a wood-meadow in every parish in the UK we can make a significant contribution to recover the losses of the last century. Six years ago we chose the wood-meadow model to try and transform a ‘conventional’ 25 acre barley field site into one of the most diverse of ecosystems in the northern temperate world.

    She explained: “We have been recording the methodology we used, and will share this with other conservation organisations. Our ultimate aim as a Charity is to see a wood-meadow in every parish, so that nature and wildlife will be accessible to all on their doorstep, for education, health and wellbeing.

    “By May of 2013, the site had been sown with two (wet and dry) lowland mixes of grasses and in December of that year 10,000 native trees and shrubs of 28 species were planted into the meadow, in 12 copses (destined for coppice with standards management). We have undertaken professional botanical, entomological, bird and mammal surveys in each subsequent year.

    “From a ‘biodiversity blank canvas’, within three years, we now have over 100 species of meadow flowers and grasses, each of which is a host to pollinating and other insects. This has been achieved by enhancing the meadow with native meadow flowers collected, sown and planted by our volunteers, along with those species that have come in of their own accord.

    “We have achieved a remarkable count of pollinators: over 20 species of butterfly, 50 of moths, all 9 common species of bumblebee, as well as 70 other species of lesser known pollinating species, including solitary bees and hoverflies, as well as dragonflies and damselflies at the pond, and many of these are breeding populations.  900 species of insect have been identified there by entomologist Andrew Grayson.

    “The meadow hosts barn owls, kestrels, buzzards and herons, and in summer, the swallows are plentiful – gathering a shimmer of invertebrates at the meadow surface. You can see what we have here: http://threehaggeswoodmeadow.org.uk/resources/ ,” she added.