The most recent State of Nature report (2019) shows that the UK is one of the most nature depleted nations in the world, it has lost almost 50% of its wildlife. The report also highlights that climate change is driving widespread changes in the abundance, distribution and ecology of England’s wildlife. Therefore, to help ecosystems and biodiversity, Climate Action Stokesley and Villages (CASaV) are working with several local councils on projects to improve the biodiversity of the area e.g. the floodplain meadow project in Great Ayton.
Great Ayton Parish Council, in conjunction with its Brighten Up Great Ayton group, are working on a 2-year project to create a floodplain meadow on riverside land behind the old Friends School.
The riverside area below the junior football pitches was originally created as a mill pond. The bund creating the mill pond was removed in the 1950s to develop the pond site into school playing fields for the recreation of pupils of The Friends School. In 2011, the area was adapted to divert and hold flood waters from the river when in spate, therefore reducing the risk of flooding in the village and the area has now become a popular walk for many residents.
Following the development of a Pollinator Plan for Great Ayton in 2019, the field itself has been identified as a potential ‘floodplain meadow’ a habitat with a nationally rare plant community. Now plans are underway to protect and improve the area; already in hand are maintenance and improvements to the footpaths, fences, bridge and flood conduits by the Parish Council grounds team. Local expert botanist Martin Allen will guide the Parish Council in the appropriate management of the area, removing invasive non-native weeds (Himalayan Balsam, Fringecups etc.) and adding other interesting and rare varieties of planting to extend the flowering season through working with the local community. Find out more
Update September 2022
Following only cutting the meadow in late summer last year, it is amazing how many wild flowers have flowered this year. Having surveyed the meadow over the summer 136 different species of plants were identified by Martin Allen.
“When I visited in July there were bees on the thistle flowers, hoverflies on the white hogweed, with butterflies flitting in between, and when I walked through the long grass small clouds of a white micro-moth took to the air – this year has been a big pollinator success story for the Floodplain Meadow.” Martin Allen
To help extend what is already in the meadow, greater bird’s foot trefoil, meadow buttercup, meadow cranesbill, red campion, water avens, and zigzag clover seeds were sown on Saturday 10th September. The seeds were either collected from the meadow or sourced locally. The meadow will again only be cut once this year.