Wildlife meadow saved for public

A MEADOW featuring some of the country’s rarest wildlife has been saved for future generations.

The site has not been mechanically farmed for hundreds of years and is home to rare plants, butterflies and birds.

But it had been under threat of being sold on the open market until the Heritage Lottery stepped in to complete an appeal. Now it will be opened to the public for use for the first time.

In June this year, The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust launched an appeal to raise £825,000 to buy 28-acre Meadow Farm, near Blackthorn, Bicester.

In less than two months, it raised £270,000 from 2,000 public donations to help save the precious site.

The trust needed to raise a further £555,000 from its members and grants.

Now the Heritage Lottery has given the project a higher than expected £758,000 boost to complete the sale to create an environmental education base at the site.

An outdoor classroom and other facilities are planned, so that next year groups and schoolchildren can visit and get closer to nature.

Chris Williams, head of the trust’s conservation and education, said: “I am very grateful to everyone who gave so generously.

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“Their contributions provided the matched funding for the Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

“They have secured the future for Meadow Farm as a very special wildlife haven for local people to enjoy forever.

“The real work starts in the New Year with recruiting the project manager, and then planning a series of exciting community activities and events to take place in the summer.”

Rare wildlife on the site includes the curlew, a wading bird, and plants such as the tubular water dropwort.

Across the UK, there are only 1,500 hectares of floodplain wildflower meadows like Meadow Farm, says the trust.

Meadow Farm near Bicester was bought by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation last year so that Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) could raise the funds.


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