The Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland are home to some of the last remaining traditional wildflower meadows in England. These priority habitats are important for farming, absorb carbon and support incredible biodiversity. One field alone can contain up to 120 species of wildflowers and grasses.
With more than 97% of our meadows already lost, our actions count more than ever to help save these extraordinary ecosystems.
Over the last decade YDMT has worked closely with landowners and other partners to help reverse the loss of hay meadows. And we are not alone, the appetite for restoring and creating meadows is growing. Working together we have the chance to repair and restore our precious wildflower meadows for future generations.
Discover our wildflower meadows
Explore some of our most spectacular species-rich hay meadows in the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland with our map and walk guides, or take a virtual tour for a close-up look around the amazing wildflower meadows at Muker and Askrigg!
Why are hay meadows so important?
Species-rich meadows support more priority wildlife and plant species than any other habitat type.
They are important habitats for invertebrates, including pollinators, which provide a food source for mammals, birds and amphibians. Conserving and restoring meadows helps to reduce the fragmented nature of those that are left, creating a network of connected wildflower-rich habitats for wildlife.
Grassland habitats play a key role in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
They capture and store carbon, cycle nutrients, help slow rainwater run-off and reduce flood risks. The sheer diversity of plants in a species-rich meadow makes them more resilient to extreme weather.
Maintaining and protecting these biodiverse, carbon-storing habitats is vital to address the climate and biodiversity crises we face.
Meadows provide food for livestock during the winter months and have been part of our agricultural history for centuries.
Working closely with farmers, YDMT has built considerable expertise in practical hay meadow restoration at a field scale, developing techniques to harvest and spread meadow seed. Our meadow restoration work in the Forest of Bowland uses a combination of "green hay" and brush harvested seed from donor meadows.
Meadow restoration in the Forest of Bowland
Traditionally managed meadows are important places for people to connect with nature.
Our community work enables people to enjoy, value and take action for meadows. We work with groups to provide training in meadow management and pollinator identification, offer opportunities for volunteers to get involved in conservation activities like bumblebee walks, plug planting, support the creation of community meadows and wildlife patches and run a wide range of educational and awareness-raising events.
Help save our meadows
The loss of species-rich meadows and grasslands is unparalleled in the history of nature conservation in the UK. When Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust first started restoring hay meadows in 2006, less than four square miles of species-rich hay meadow habitat remained in the whole of the UK.
Since then we've been working hard to conserve and restore hay meadows and protect the wildlife they support. Working alongside farmers and partners 750 hectares (that's almost 3 square miles!) of degraded meadows across the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland are now on the road to being restored. Our aim is to reach 850 hectares in the next three years, helping to bring this precious habitat back from the brink.
The support of local communities and people like you is critical to ensure the survival of our meadows. It is brilliant to see people coming together to champion our wildflower habitats and to take action to protect and restore them. Find out how you can be part of it...
Give a Living Bouquet wildflower gift for £25 and help restore wildflower meadows in the Yorkshire Dales, home to bumblebees, birds and butterflies.
Find out how to bring bees, pollinators and other wildlife into your garden, with our gardening guides and follow our videos to create your own wildflower meadow.
Inspire children to explore the magical world of bees. Our bee box is packed with everything you need to discover bees from magnifying glass to wildflower seeds.