Why Hay Time?
Over the last sixty years there has been a dramatic decline in the quality and extent of meadows in the UK, largely due to a shift to intensive agriculture stimulated by government pressure and subsidies. The botanical diversity of many degraded meadows can, over time, be restored by reinstating traditional, low-input management and adding seed sustainably harvested from nearby species-rich meadows. However, although restoration funding is available through agri-environment schemes, the lack of specialist machinery, trained contractors and dedicated staff to coordinate work had prevented much restoration from being undertaken prior to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) launching Hay Time in 2006.
Aims of Hay Time
The project aims to restore upland and lowland meadows within and close to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It does this by working closely with farmers and Natural England to target restoration using various methods to harvest and spread seed. It also aims to enable people to understand, celebrate and care for this important part of our natural and cultural heritage.
Hay Time’s Achievements
By 2018 (12 years after its launch) more than 700 hectares of meadow have had seed added and are in better management. Statistical analysis indicates that most of these meadows are becoming more diverse as a result. Literally thousands of people have taken part in meadows-themed events and activities included in YDMT’s annual Flowers of the Dales Festival. People have been trained in wildflower and bumblebee ID, in scything techniques and the management of meadows. We’ve also worked with local schools and communities through programmes such as Into the Meadows, Buzz in the Meadows, Networks for Nectar and Wildflowers for the Meadows. In 2011 we published the acclaimed Hay Time in the Yorkshire Dales book. The project won the Environmental Project category of the Yorkshire Rural Awards 2010 and the national Charity Awards 2012. We’ve also worked in partnership with Nidderdale and the Forest of Bowland AONBs helping both to establish and deliver their own meadow restoration projects. 2019 has seen two new projects start – Haytime Rescue and Bee Together
Who is involved in Hay Time?
Hay Time is a partnership between YDMT and YDNPA. Volunteers have helped with meadow surveys, seed collecting and bumble bee monitoring. Funding has come from a wide range of public and private sources.
Hay Time Project Manager, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust