Ecclesbourne Meadow Under Threat

11th September 2008, Thursday

Ecclesbourne Meadow, part of the Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve, is under threat from a bramble and scrub invasion, which is set to strangle the wildflower-rich grassland.

Dyer's greenweed growing in Ecclesbourne Meadow.

To save the meadow Hastings Borough Council has joined forces with the Friends of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve, Natural England and the High Weald Meadows Initiative.

Fund-raising by the Friends group and part funding by Natural England will help provide fencing around the meadow so animals can be brought in to graze the land and rid it naturally of brambles and scrub.

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Councillor Peter Finch, lead member for Community Well-Being and chairman of the park’s management forum, said: “The meadow is a stunning resource and it would be very sad to see it disappear under a blanket of bramble and scrub. This fencing will help keep animals in but there will be gates installed to allow people to walk through the meadow as before. We have no intention of obstructing rights of way for anyone and believe the self-closing gates will prove very successful. We anticipate that work will start later this month.

”The meadow comes under the Council’s countryside stewardship agreement and is very important to us. These types of cliff top meadows are very rare indeed, as most get converted to arable land or for intensive pasture. This meadow, with its wild flowers, attracts rare and scarce bees that breed here on the cliffs including the long-horned bee, which has greatly declined in number in Britain.

“The Friends group works very hard and is involved in a number of conservation projects. To join them, call into the visitor centre in the park.”