New meadows will bring a buzz to Irvine

Pollinators and people in Irvine will benefit from work to double the area of annual wildflower meadow at the town’s Beach Park.

The existing meadows brought colour and life to Irvine Beach Park last summer © Lynne Bates

The Dragon Meadow and Pond Meadow were sown last autumn using native wildflower seed. This year, cuttings from both meadows have been used to extend the Dragon Meadow. A total of two hectares of the park is now wildflower meadow habitat, which will support a range of wildlife and bring colour to the park.

The new meadows were sown using green hay. This innovative technique involves gathering and spreading the autumn cuttings from an existing meadow, which are rich in wildflower seeds, on an area of prepared ground.

This work has been carried out by the Scottish Wildlife Trust-led Irvine to Girvan Nectar Network, as part of the Garnock Connections Garnock’s Buzzing project.

Lynne Bates, Nectar Network Co-ordinator, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “We received lots of positive comments this summer about the colour and life that the new meadows brought to the park. it’s great to be able to come back and significantly extend these areas.

“Wildflower meadows are incredibly valuable habitats. They provide spectacular displays of wildflowers including viper’s bugloss and lesser knapweed, nectar and pollen for pollinating insects, and they are vital spaces for wildlife. Sadly these habitats have declined by around 97% since the end of the Second World War and it is vital to work to bring them back.

“It’s also exciting to be able to trial the use of green hay within the project. One of the biggest costs of sowing a meadow is buying the seed so using the cuttings from existing meadows to create new ones can create a significant saving.”

Preparing the ground for the new meadows at Irvine Beach Park © Lynne Bates

Two further meadows, each covering half a hectare, have been created in Irvine as part of the Scottish Wildlife Trust-led Irvine to Girvan Nectar Network project. These meadows are close to the Trust’s Sourlie Wood and Lawthorn Wood Wildlife Reserves.

All four meadows will be managed by North Ayrshire Council, including an annual cutting regime that ensures that they remain valuable habitat for pollinators.

Councillor Jim Montgomerie, Cabinet Member for Green New Deal and Sustainability, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership on this important environmental project to bring new wildflower meadows to North Ayrshire.

“These meadows are hugely valuable for wildlife and for people. They create natural corridors packed with pollen and nectar that allow ecosystems to flourish by providing bees and insects with shelter and somewhere to feed and breed.

“Projects such as these helps improve biodiversity here in North Ayrshire and this is an important part of our work in response to the climate emergency. We look forward to seeing the meadows in full bloom next year, bringing a vibrant wash of colour to the area and offering vital space for local wildlife.”

Green hay has been used to sow the new meadows, creating a significant cost saving © Lynne Bates

The Irvine to Girvan Nectar Network aims to establish connected nectar and pollen-rich sites along the Ayrshire coast, ensuring the long-term survival of pollinating insects in the area. The project is led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and is supported by The FairWays Foundation and NatureScot.

Garnock’s Buzzing is a Garnock Connections project. Garnock Connections is a Landscape Partnership Scheme led by RSPB Scotland in partnership with NatureScot, North Ayrshire Council, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Historic Environment Scotland (HES) act as an advisory body to the partnership. Garnock Connections has been supported by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Garnock’s Buzzing is led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, SRUC and Buglife.

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Pollinators and people in Irvine will benefit from work to double the area of annual wildflower meadow at the town’s Beach Park. The Dragon Meadow and Pond Meadow were sown …

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