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WWF partnership and funding from Botanica by Air Wick to invigorate bloom and buzz in the Soar catchment

Working together to help restore UK wildflower habitats

Butterflies, bees, and wildflowers to receive a second wind of life as communities in the Soar catchment including Leicester, Harborough, and Rutland benefit from a new partnership between WWF, Botanica by Air Wick and the Trent Rivers Trust. Alongside Norfolk Rivers Trust and the Wye and Usk Rivers Trust, the project will restore a total of 20 million square feet of habitat across the UK.

The initiative comes at a crucial time, over the last 90 years 97% of wild meadows have been lost. To reverse the trend locally, Trent Rivers Trust has been awarded a grant of £250,000 to restore 271 ha of depleted habitat into a wildflower haven. As part of the partnership, we will create brand new sites for wildflowers from other land uses, as well as enhance the conservation and management of existing meadows and other wildflower habitats.

The shared aim is to make a genuine difference in local nature restoration. The project focuses on landscapes that have seen the most drastic of changes over the last decades and centuries and will help to address the decline in wildflowers and associated insect populations. The Soar catchment falls under ‘heavily modified habitat’ and has, therefore, been identified as a priority for wild meadow restoration. In the catchment, historic and current land use and water management practices are causing pollution and a loss of wetland habitat, both in urban and rural areas.

Wildflower meadows provide a boost for depleted insect populations including wild bees and the increasingly rare habitat introduces vital ecosystem services that benefit local communities long-term. Such benefits include an improvement of soil and water quality, a natural increase in flood resilience, and carbon sequestration. Urban wildflower meadows offer opportunities for nature connection. Known to create tangible benefits to mental health and well-being, part of the project aims to provide educational resources and the opportunity to help restore nature within local communities.

Creating new sites and enhancing existing ones comes with essential stages of planning and engagement. We need to inspire private and public landowners to work with us, and make sure we are choosing the best sites that will be supported and protected – and providing as much benefit to nature and local communities as possible – far into the future. This stage is crucial to ensuring the longevity of our projects’ impact and legacy.

At Trent Rivers Trust, this means following our tried-and-tested partnership approach by setting shared priorities and addressing issues in collaboration with our network of local partners. A flagship element of the project includes work on the Halstead Farm in Leicestershire. Located in the headwaters of the catchment, the shift from traditional farming practice toward 2.4 ha of pollinator-friendly habitat creates vital improvements to habitat and downstream water quality.

Image credit
Steve Morgan / WWF-UK

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