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Rare and wild flowers blossom in Kendal after livestock fenced off
A TEN-YEAR project to restore species-rich limestone grassland at the former Kendal Racecourse has helped hundreds of rare flowers blossom.
The site, off Brigsteer Road, is next to Bradleyfield Allotment, which forms part of Scout and Cunswick Scars Site of Special Scientific Interest and Morecambe Bay Limestones Special Area of Conservation.
Livestock has been excluded from three fenced-off compartments since May to allow for species such as red clover, harebell, salad burnet and lady’s bedstraw to flower and set seed.
Limestone grassland is an internationally important but endangered habitat – it is often described as the British equivalent of tropical rainforest and is vital to the survival of rare and threatened wildlife such as the high brown fritillary butterfly.
The project is part of the Morecambe Bay Limestone and Wetlands Nature Improvement Area.
The work is made possible following entry of the land into the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme administered by Natural England.
“The project is going really well,” said Helen Rawlinson, Nature Improvement Area grassland adviser at Cumbria Wildlife Trust. “We are impressed with how many wild flowers have grown in a short time.
“Carline thistle and field scabious are growing, and these are good limestone grassland indicators, which I wasn’t expecting to see in the first year, so it is really encouraging.”
The enclosures will come down in September to allow the grassland to be grazed over the winter months.
Until fences are reinforced next year, Helen will carry out monthly surveys to monitor the patch of land to pick up any significant change.
“At the moment, we are treating the project as an experiment,” Helen added.
“It has been trial and error to see what actually grows here and what doesn’t, but it has been a great first year and we can’t wait to see what happens next.”
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