The Big Devon Meadows Count

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Donna Cox
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The Big Devon Meadows Count

Post by Donna Cox »

Moor Meadows is excited to share the news that The Devon Environment Foundation has awarded a grant of £10,800 to us and our partner, The Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, for a new project - The Big Devon Meadows Count.

Meadows are some of our best sites for biodiversity and Devon is fortunate to have some wonderful species-rich grasslands, many owned and managed by Moor Meadows members. But there is currently a lack of up to date information about the extent and quality of meadows in Devon. This makes it difficult to protect and connect all these nature-rich sites across the county. The Big Devon Meadows Count will address this by encouraging meadow owners to survey and evaluate their flower-rich grasslands.

The project will take place in 2024-2025, with a pilot in the first year. The big roll out will commence in 2025 when we’ll be asking meadow makers to survey their meadow, whatever its size or species-richness, whether it is newly created or is well established. We will provide them with all the resources they need, including survey tools and techniques, species lists and any help they need to hone their plant ID skills.

We’re pleased to have onboard Lisa Schneidau, who worked for many years at Devon Wildlife Trust, running this exciting project.

Photo: Wendy Searle
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DBRC_Jack
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Re: The Big Devon Meadows Count - DBRC Intro

Post by DBRC_Jack »

All of us at the Devon Biodiversity Record Centre are incredibly excited to be a partner on The Big Devon Meadows Project.

We are looking forward to getting out in the field to meet and train participants, as well as to collate and analyze the data generated by the project. We know there are some fantastic sites out there, and we hope this project can further develop our understanding of the amazing meadows we have on our doorstep in Devon.

You may already be aware of the work we do, but for those unfamiliar, you can follow the link below to our website to find out more:

https://www.dbrc.org.uk/
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Polly
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The Big Devon Meadows Count project information

Post by Polly »

BIG DEVON MEADOWS COUNT

PROJECT INFORMATION

The Big Devon Meadows Count will audit, survey, evaluate and protect as many Moor Meadows species-rich grassland sites as possible across Devon, increasing knowledge of this under-represented habitat so we can better understand the extent and quality of fragmented sites.

The project will ensure better protection of these grassland sites through landowner action, improved knowledge and survey skills of Moor Meadows members, and County Wildlife Site designation where applicable.

Year 1 (2024) will be a pilot covering a minimum of 59 sites in a limited area of Dartmoor.

Year 2 (2025) the project will open up to the Moor Meadows network across Devon, currently 575 sites.

The project is a partnership between Moor Meadows and Devon Biodiversity Records Centre (DBRC). It is generously funded by the Devon Environment Foundation. Dartmoor National Park Authority is also contributing some funding. Both Moor Meadows and DBRC are contributing significant time-in-kind to the project.

Moor Meadows was established in 2015 as a not-for-profit, volunteer-led community group on Dartmoor and now has over 2000 members. Our mission is to celebrate wildflower meadows and promote their conservation, restoration and creation, on any scale. We support meadow owners who have many acres across the National Park and beyond, to those who just have a meadow in a garden. Members are landowners, farmers, gardeners and people who love nature. Joining is free.

A DEF grant in 2020 enabled us to expand our network across Devon. There are now regional meadows hubs, including in West and East Devon. Supporters are invited to add the location of their meadow to our online Map. The current meadow area on our map for Devon is 2,323 acres on 575 sites. www.moormeadows.org.uk/map/

The project manager for the Big Meadows Count is Lisa Schneidau. Marketing and comms support will be provided by Donna Cox, with administrative support from Polly and PR support from Dan Smith.

Devon Biodiversity Records Centre (DBRC) will provide expertise in data management and digitization, survey training and site protection measures for the Big Meadows Count. DBRC is a partnership-led not-for-profit organisation hosted by Devon Wildlife Trust, set up 25 years ago to further the collective knowledge it holds on biodiversity within Devon. DBRC’s primary remit is to increase the scale and quality of information on Devon’s environment that flows into decision making within planning and conservation locally and nationally. Through tailored outputs, DBRC data is also used by communities and landowners.

DBRC has a team of eight professional staff, including a field team and IT specialists. This allows DBRC to securely manage significant data, utilise modelling and software which can add value, inform relevant processes to protect nature, and help to make the data accessible to non-expert audiences.

Much of the information DBRC collects and collates focuses on location and condition of sites of high nature value, including priority habitats and green infrastructure outside of statutory site designations. DBRC manages Devon’s County Wildlife Sites (CWS) framework of over 2,200 sites, with 20+ designated newly each year. DBRC surveys and monitors around 60 sites across Devon per year and receive intelligence on other sites from partners and volunteers. To increase the data flow into their databases, DBRC provides training in botanical plant identification and skills sharing, ensuring expert knowledge is passed on. In addition to sites and habitats, DBRC holds over 8.5 million species records.

DBRC staff (Ian Egerton, Phil Sansum and Jack Rivers) will work with the project manager to devise and agree survey format and process, deliver training, receive and digitise data, and report on data received with extent and location of habitat, site quality and potential designations. They will follow up on high quality sites, working with landowners to undertake detailed CWS surveys and submit sites for designation through their existing CWS monitoring project.

Why we are running the Big Meadows Count?

Lack of data is a major factor in the vulnerability of meadows: Species rich grasslands can be easily destroyed through farming, development or neglect, often due to a simple lack of understanding about their wildlife interest. Grasslands are vulnerable if they are sold or passed to the others in the family. For sites over 5 ha, data is needed to access agri-environment schemes. High quality sites can achieve CWS designation which must be taken into account by planning authorities. Increasing landowner understanding of nature on their land can only assist with meadow conservation.

Existing data on undesignated meadows is variable and patchy: Although we have a pinpoint location map of Moor Meadows sites, a consistent data set of grassland types, notable species and management status of MM sites does not exist. Information recorded and held by meadow owners is variable in quality and patchy in distribution, with no standard format. Habitat surveys are expensive; the number of county experts is low. This project brings species and habitat data on all MM sites up to a common standard, increasing survey skills of landowners, and providing an overview of the quality and status of sites (currently 575 sites across 2323 acres).

Meadow data can only protect sites if it’s digitised and integrated into DBRC records: To date, Moor Meadows has lacked the funding for a comprehensive survey of our sites. This project takes a pragmatic, co-ordinated approach, working with DBRC and landowners to ensure as much data is made available to assist with site protection.

The benefit to Moor Meadows owners

In addition to helping protect your site for the future, participating in the Big Devon Meadows Count will help to develop your survey and species identification skills, and provide information that will help you fine-tune the management of your site to maximise its value for nature. The better you know your meadow, the better you will be able to manage and protect it.

The Pilot survey will run in 2024 with all meadow makers across Devon being invited to take part in 2025.
LisaSchneidau
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Re: The Big Devon Meadows Count

Post by LisaSchneidau »

Hello everyone

Here is a link to the Zoom call session on the Big Meadows Count from this morning - many thanks to all who took part.

This presentation is all about the Big Meadows Count, a run through of the survey methdology and some questions.

https://us06web.zoom.us/rec/share/Y0att ... 7061772000

Passcode: !pwKR4@P

Survey forms and maps will be sent out very shortly - our survey season is about to begin!

Best wishes

Lisa
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