The Waveney Valley Plant Diversity Restoration Project
The Waveney valley is a picturesque landscape and yet it is bereft of the floral diversity that was once common in pre industrialised times. The wet meadows of the valley were drained, and the traditional grazing regimes by what we now call heritage breeds that encouraged and maintained floral diversity, were replaced with annually herbicide regimes resulting in barren monocultures of what we call improved pasture to support the modern high yield breeds. The result? Loss of Biodiversity!
The Otter Trust now has a small side bar cutter mower and tractor, the side bar cutter simulates the hay cutting of old and has been shown to be the best machinery option for maintenance and increase in wildflower diversity as it has slower cutting speeds and simulates the action of a scythe leaving the plant intact to set seed. Furthermore, side bar cutting minimises wildlife mortality during cutting, for example the use of a suction flail mower kills on average 60% of vertebrates (including small mammals and amphibians) and 49% of invertebrates.), whereas the bar mower caused 11% and 18% respectively on the same counts.
After a successful pilot year in 2021 involving 6 landowners the Otter Trust is expanding its work out across the Waveney Valley. Each site we cut undergoes biodiversity surveys to establish baseline data for each site, this process will be repeated each year to measure the change in biodiversity over time. Furthermore we are able to bale the hay cuts on biodiverse sites and then transfer this to sites in need of a biodiversity boost! Nay landowners or private individuals wishing to transform their wet meadows and grasslands into beautiful biodiverse havens for wildlife should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.