The Haytime Project & The Wild Watch in Nidderdale
This week’s meeting brought us good news stories about nature conservation in Wharfedale and Nidderdale. We were treated to two stimulating talks, the first by Tanya St Pierre on the successful Haytime Project now running for more than 10 years. Haytime champions the rehabilitation of our ancient wild-flower meadows and their associated flora. From Tanya’s presentation we learnt that there can be 40 species of wild flowers in one square metre but that there has been a dramatic decline in such diversity. However, this project has already succeeded in restoring 96 hectares of wild-flower meadows.
The second presentation was by Prof John Altringham who has just received important funding for 3 years from Heritage Lottery Fund for ‘The Wild Watch: Conservation on a Landscape Scale’ a major new nature conservation initiative for the Nidderdale AONB. Common themes which emerged from these presentations were concerns about the fragmentation and degradation of habitats, intensive farming and climate change. Examples of suggested routes to improvement are the creation of wildlife corridors, collection of hard data and community involvement.
The Haytime project has already enlisted many farmers and, through its Meadow Links, the participation of 7 communities. The Nidderdale project hopes to create a new generation of skilled natural historians by combining ‘citizen’ science and hard science: from families out for a walk to specialist environmentalists, other scientists and specialist map-makers. This project also aims to collect ecological data on 50 species of national conservation concern and produce a Species Recovery Action Plan. The WNS has long supported the Haytime project and hopes both the support and benefit from the Nidderdale project.