Weald Meadows Joins Forces with RBG Kew

In a unique partnership The High Weald Landscape Trust has signed a formal Memorandum of Collaboration (MoC) with The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew as part of the HWLTs – Weald Meadows Initiative (HWLT – WMI)! For this ground breaking and well managed project, this agreement provides recognition for the 15 years of meadow enhancement, regeneration, data collation and specialist meadows knowledge making the initiative a best practice leader in its area and through the projects experiences, a national example worth following.

Millennium Seed Bank Meadow - Wakehurst PlaceThis MoC between the WMI and RBG – not only supports practical application; it aids valuable research and crucially seeks to ensure a strong and working partnership that will continue for many years into the future.

The WMI & Kew have collaborated for many years on the collection, study and conservation of the flora of lowland meadows in the Weald of Sussex and Kent. In fact, Kew made its first order of ‘wild harvested’ Weald Native Origin Seed (WNOS) back in 1996. The seed was banked and used to enhance the landscape around the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place in West Sussex. These meadows are now fully established and the diversity of plants they contain reflects the quality of original seed. More recently the WMI has supplied wild harvested local seed to assist Wakehurst to deliver a new programme of grassland enhancements under the Environmental Stewardship Scheme.

So what does this new partnership mean for you? Firstly, your meadow seed will continue to be part of an expanding but well recognised ‘wild harvested’ WMI – Weald Native Origin Seed. By harvesting and making this WNO seed available, new meadows are being enhanced and created – adding to the value and biodiversity of meadows across the Weald. Secondly, single species collections from your meadow could be transferred to the Millennium Seed Bank as part of a Kew initiative to provide wider support the UK native seed industry and NGOs. Founder collections stored at the Millennium Seed Bank will be bulked up in seed production beds at Wakehurst Place to produce genetically representative, high quality seeds which will be made available for direct use or commercial production.

Some of seed/material which was hand and machinery harvested in 2010 has already been used for a demonstration of field scale plots displaying a range of enhancement techniques including: spreading green hay, whole crop meadow material and combined grass and wildflower seed. Open to the public, the Wakehurst Place Bloomers Valley interpretation site could assist landowners and individuals to choose the most appropriate method of introducing new or additional flowers to their fields and gardens. The partnership will provide interpretation material for visitors to Wakehurst Place and through targeted organised events both partners hope to continue with the planned enhancement of the area.

For more information about how you can support the work of the HWLT – WMI and the partnership with Kew please contact Dawn Brickwood

Dr Robin Probert (Kew Head of Technology & Training) and Mr Simon Phipps (HWLT Chairman) at Millennium Seed Bank,Wakehurst Place, following the MoC signing The April MoC meeting (left to right) Dawn Brickwood-WMI, Iain Parkinson-Kew, Simon Phipps–HWLT, Keith Datchler OBE–HWLT and Michael Way-Kew

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