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WILDLIFE SET TO BENEFIT FROM OLYMPICS 2012 LEGACY PDF Print E-mail

Thursday, 27 September 2012 17:22

Wildflower Turf Ltd and key conservation charity link up to provide havens for wildlife in Sussex

Wildlife is to become one of the unexpected ‘legacy' beneficiaries of the Olympics, thanks to a joint initiative between the Hampshire-based organisation, Wildflower Turf Ltd, and a conservation charity.

The Meadows Nectar Networks Initiative and Wildflower Turf are set to plant wildflowers and grasses, which were featured at the Olympics, across specially selected UK locations with a view to promoting regional biodiversity and sustainability.

Wildflower Turf, pioneers in producing the first soil-less growing system for wildflowers and grasses, developed a unique blend of turf for the Olympics which featured at the opening ceremony and across a range of sites including the Equestrian centre and the Athletes' village. The company is aiming to extend the benefits of its product by donating significant quantities of the same unique mix to permanent sites.

The first site to benefit from the planting will be at Battle, near Hastings, where the wildflower turf will be laid in a specially-designated area. The second site will be located at the Weald and Downland Museum near Chichester.

James Hewetson-Brown, Wildflower Turf's managing director, explains: "We are delighted to donate the special blend of wildflower turf, with 30 different flower seeds and four types of grasses in the hope that the quality, adaptability, flexibility, and long-term environmental and financial rewards it offers will become more widely known. We grew more than we needed for the Olympics, so this is an ideal way to extend the turf's benefits to the wider community and provide a lasting legacy.

"Sadly, the UK countryside faces an increasing threat from land use and this has had a devastating impact on habitats for rare and fast-declining numbers of our native plants, insects, animals and birds. In the last 70 years, 97% of the UK's grasslands and wildflower meadows have been destroyed as a result of development activities and neglect, with a profound impact on the insects, animals and birds they once supported."

Danny Boyle's ‘Green and Pleasant Land' theme, highlighted in the opening sequence of the Olympics 2012 showed how wildflower environments are an intrinsic part of Britain's heritage.

A valuable legacy of the Olympics will be to raise widespread awareness of the crisis facing the UK's meadows and pastures and the wildlife they support.

The Meadows Nectar Network Initiative works to preserve and restore threatened sites and to raise awareness of the importance of grasslands, not only for their wildlife, but also their cultural, historic and landscape value. Over the last 17 years, an area the size of Bedfordshire has disappeared. The British landscape, with its hedged tapestry of meadows and pastures, provide unique habitats which are home to many native species such as the cowslip, brown hare, short-haired bumblebee and Adonis blue butterfly.

Keith Datchler, OBE and head of the Meadows Nectar Networks Initiative, said: "With the help of Wildflower Turf, this project will help us showcase the significant part wildflowers, herbs and grasses have played, and hopefully will continue to play, in encouraging biodiversity across the UK. Grasslands play a vital role in helping us maintain a healthy ecosystem for the benefit of our families and children as well as providing beautiful and inspirational places for us to enjoy."

This joint initiative aims to raise awareness of the importance of recreating ancient pastures and wildflower meadows and enable everyone to contribute to protecting and restoring the countryside, parks and gardens as wildlife havens for the UK's native species.

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