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Show time for Dales hay meadows

[Tuesday 20 November 2007]
hay meadow flowers
Show time for Dales hay meadows

HAY meadows in the Yorkshire Dales National Park will be showcased in a five-month event being staged next year.

The ecological importance of the fields has already been recognised with the launch by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) last year of the Hay Time Project. It aims to restore 140 hectares of upland and lowland meadow to their former glory by encouraging farmers to revert to more traditional management that allows meadow flowers to thrive, supporting a huge variety of wildlife.

The Yorkshire Dales Hay Time Festival, which will run from May to September, will comprise a programme of events and activities for visitors and locals to highlight the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the National Park's hay meadows.

The events and activities are being staged by a host of organisations and individuals in and around the National Park.

Hay Time Festival co-ordinator Karen Griffiths, the YDNPA's Interpretation Officer, said: "The festival is a celebration of our traditional hay meadows, which play such an important part in the biodiversity and in the heritage of the Dales.

"We will be staging a series of events to help people to understand their value in the countryside and to enjoy their beauty and the rich variety of wildlife they support.

"In modern farming methods, silage is grown in fields without any flowers, which means there is very little, if any wildlife. On the other hand, the traditional hay meadows - which, for Dales folk, often conjure up childhood memories of summer picnics in the long grass - are full of flowers and birds, insects and mammals.

"The festival aims to recapture some of that tradition and heritage as well as explaining the importance and value of the hay meadows for the future of the Yorkshire Dales."

Species-rich hay meadows, for which the Dales are renowned, are the product of careful management by generations of farmers

Pippa Rayner - YDMT

There will be plenty of fun things for families and children to do and see as well as for people with special interests. Activities will range from picnics and guided walks through meadows to exhibitions and more specialist plant identification days.

If any groups or organisations are planning an event that they would like featuring in the festival, they can contact Karen on 01756 751619.

Pippa Rayner, YDMT Hay Time Project Officer, said: "Species-rich hay meadows, for which the Dales are renowned, are the product of careful management by generations of farmers, and so are an important part of our cultural and wildlife heritage.

"The farmers I've worked with on restoring meadows that have lost some of their diversity are keen to see them full of flowers and wildlife again, and the festival will help people to understand and appreciate the role of farming in maintaining the beautiful meadows that remain."

Anyone who would like more details about the Hay Time Project should visit www.ydmt.org/haytime

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