Improvements to Dickens Heath Country Park
Although once widespread in lowland Britain, the traditional hay meadow has been the grassland community most affected by modern farming practices. It is estimated that by 1984 semi-natural grassland had declined in the UK by 97% over the previous 50 years to less than 200,000ha, mainly through ploughing, re-seeding and fertilising of old grasslands.*
With the aim of helping to address the national reduction in species-rich grassland Solihull Council has secured funding to undertake five grassland improvement projects totalling 32.85 hectares. The first of these will take place at Dickens Heath Country Park Local Nature Reserve in early August 2017. The aim is to increase the species diversity and ecological value of the existing four hectares of species poor grassland. Initially the grass will be cut and the grass cuttings removed. The site will then be chain harrowed to lightly disturb the ground. Brook Meadow, a species rich wildflower meadow near Dorridge and managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust will then be harvested for green hay. This donor site is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) supporting a wide number of wildflower species including common spotted orchid, crested dogstail, betony, great burnet the rare meadow thistle. Machinery will be used to harvest the green hay which consists of these wildflowers and grasses just as they are shedding seed and still ‘green’. The hay will be quickly transferred to the DHCP LNR where it will be spread allowing the seed from these imported wildflowers to drop and germinate which will significantly improve the biological and landscape value of the meadows.