Hebden Royd Town Council's story
Until recently, the Town Council leased some of its land for cattle to graze. In 2021, the Town Council launched the High Hirst Woodmeadow Project (HHWM); transforming these 4 acres of council-owned land into a woodmeadow, which are mixtures of woodland and meadow that combine the biodiversity of both habitats and are incredibly rich in life. Once complete, HHWM will include woodland, a community orchard, a wildflower meadow and hedging, to help combat biodiversity loss and to reduce flood risk in the area.
The successful planting of native trees over 1.5 acres of the High Hirst site by ‘Treeresponsibility’ with the help of local schoolchildren in 2014 and a Botanical Site Survey in 2021, have proved that High Hirst’s meadow is an important grassland habitat.
The site was historically upland hay meadow, so HHWM is aiming (as much as possible) to use the traditional farming practices which created the meadow in the first place. In terms of funding, HHWM successfully bid for £7,200 from the National Lottery Community Fund for project development, which has helped HHWM develop accessibility, interpretation boards and a pond area, as well as host scything and hay making courses and National Meadow Day events.
A lot of progress has been made since 2021, with local volunteer teams frequently coming together to work on the land! All are welcome and regular volunteer updates can be found on HHWM’s Facebook page. Recently in July 2023, HHWM conducted its first ever moth survey, proving that it’s a biodiversity hotspot- with a total of 77 moth species recorded, including several rare species such as the Beautiful Snout, Beautiful Hook-tip, Large Emerald, Sycamore, and Blackneck!
In addition to boosting biodiversity, reducing flood risks and capturing carbon, HHWM also wants to create community opportunities. HHWM is open to the public; offering a chance for people to get outdoors and connect with nature. Local people also have fair access to any food grown on the site. Alongside volunteering, there will also be educative opportunities, as HHWM aims to raise public awareness of biodiversity, natural land management and develop people’s practical skills in tackling the climate crisis.
Useful learnings forom Hebden Royd Town Council
Get the community on board. Share your ideas and give the community a chance to input and get involved.
If doing a biodiversity project: start with a botanical site survey/ wildlife survey if possible. This gives you a baseline to measure against in the future to help you measure success and where you can improve.
Hebden Royd Town Council's metrics
We are also measuring success by community engagement and feedback. We have a growing group of volunteers on the site and have had excellent feedback from events such as ecological and fungi walks, moth breakfast, meadows day events and haymaking weeks!