Nearly twenty five years ago a small group of volunteers agreed to manage a swathe of meadow across from Clifton Ings to allow Sustrans to put through the N65 cycle route to Beningbrough. As a result of 20 years of excessive grazing, the sward was dominated by tufted hair-grass along with huge swathes of creeping thistle and wasn’t a pretty site.
Years of management brought a major change to that landscape so that the amazing part is that now a large chunk is designated as a SSSI for its wildflower-rich grassland. The volunteers carry on expanding habitat for the endangered Tansy Beetle, whilst coppicing scrub, repairing fences and controlling noxious weeds, year in and year out. It’s such a change from how sad it looked those twenty-odd years ago.
Without Friends the creeping thistle would have spread and the biodiversity value diminished under the monoculture. Instead we have lots of flowers, birds, trees and between 10 and 20% of the national population of the Tansy Beetle.
So when you see a few people cutting back some of the more invasive weeds, repairing the fences to permit cattle to graze or generally looking after the site summer and winter consider giving them a hand – it’s only there in its glory because the Friends spend their time on it. The cattle are also a very necessary part of that management, they’re Friends too.