The community can soon get involved in our new Swindon urban meadows project


A project to enhance urban meadows and forest habitats while improving people’s health and wellbeing is about to be launched in Swindon.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust have teamed up with Swindon Borough Council to deliver a three-year programme, the Forest Meadows Project, which will include 12 sites within the borough covering more than 170 hectares.

Most of the meadow and forest sites are located along the corridor of the River Ray, but the project will also link to other areas including Sevenfields, the Lawns and our nature reserves where wonderful meadows already exist.

The project, which is being funded by the Council with £80,000 in Section 106 developer contributions and other biodiversity grants, will be led by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, who will work with the Council, parish councils and local community groups.

It will involve sustaining existing meadows by establishing annual maintenance programmes to form traditional ‘hay meadows’ as well as more intensive management of other locations such as stripping existing vegetation and re-sowing and planting wildflowers. Grazing animals such as cattle could also be introduced on some of the areas in order to improve biodiversity and sustain the management of the sites.

Some community groups, such as those in Highworth, Hreod Burna and Rivermead, already manage the sites and the project will support them to improve their meadows and hopefully recruit new members.

One of the main focuses of the project will be to link in with existing health and wellbeing groups in Swindon to encourage their members to get involved in a wide range of activities from the sowing and planting of wildflowers through to the biological monitoring of sites for wildlife such as butterflies and moths.

Councillor Gary Sumner, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, said:

“This is a wonderful project which has so many benefits attached to it."

WWT Chief Executive Dr Gary Mantle MBE said: 

“We are delighted to enter into this three-year project with Swindon Borough Council, and look forward to working with parishes and local groups. This comes at a time of increasing public concern about and demand for action on a range of critical environmental issues, including loss of wildlife, the decline in insects (particularly pollinators), climate change, and a heightened awareness of the importance of the natural world for our health and wellbeing. The Trust has been active in managing land for wildlife in Swindon for over 40 years and community engagement has always been at the heart of this effort. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to consolidate this effort in a focussed way through the Forest Meadows Project.”