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The Prince of Wales launches the Coronation Meadows

5th June 2013

Highgrove

The garden at Highgrove

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The Prince of Wales today will unveil 60 "Coronation meadows" as part of efforts to conserve flower-rich grasslands across the UK.

The scheme to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen's Coronation aims to identify a meadow in every county, and use those sites to restore or recreate other meadows in their area. The UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s, hitting plant species and the wildlife that relies on them, and the project also aims to map the pockets of flower-rich meadows that still remain across the country.

Today The Prince will launch the Coronation Meadows Initiative at Highgrove, his home in Tetbury which has its own wildflower meadow.

The first 60 flagship meadows being announced by The Prince, who came up with the idea in response to a report by charity Plantlife into wildflower losses in the past 60 years, reflect their local landscape and support threatened native plants. They include Martin's Meadow in Suffolk, home to green-winged orchids, a species that has seen declines of 50%, and meadow saffron, while Cae Blaen-dyffryn in Carmarthenshire has whorled caraway and thousands of lesser butterfly-orchids.

Four-fifths of the 60 meadows identified so far can trace an undisturbed history back to before the coronation, and in some cases for hundreds of years. Many are grazed with native breeds, which helps wild flowers survive and they range in size from the 400 acre Therfield Heath in Hertfordshire, home to the largest population of pasque flower in Britain, to the tiny Hayton meadow in Shropshire which is just three-quarters of an acre.

Under the plans, the coronation meadow in each county will be a "donor" site, with hay and seed collected and used to restore or create new meadows in the same area. This process will conserve the local characteristics of grasslands in each area, rather than relying on generic seed mixes which cannot reproduce that diversity. His Royal Highness said: "My coronation meadows idea came to me when I read Plantlife's 2012 report and fully appreciated just how many wildflower meadows had been lost over the past 60 years.

"This year we are celebrating my mother's coronation so surely there is no better moment to end this destruction and to stimulate a new mood to protect our remaining meadows and to use them as springboards for the restoration of other sites and the creation of new meadows right across the UK."

The report from Plantlife that inspired the project revealed that Britain has lost 10 wildflower species from the countryside since the Queen came to the throne 60 years ago The study also revealed wildflowers were vanishing from individual counties at a rate of up to one species a year, a "drip by drip loss" that could eventually see more plants disappearing on a national scale.

 

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Highgrove: Discover its sustainable secrets

The Prince of Wales walks in the meadows at Highgrove House with Victoria Chester of Plantlife at the launch for the Coronation Meadows Initiative

The Prince of Wales walks in the meadows at Highgrove House with Victoria Chester of Plantlife at the launch for the Coronation Meadows Initiative

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As the first 60 meadows were unveiled, Plantlife's chief executive Victoria Chester said: "In an age where we too often turn to the quick-fix of commercial 'nectar mixes', Coronation Meadows is both a celebration and a pledge to our children and grandchildren, using the floral riches of the past to create meadow gems for the future.

"Restoring meadow is painstaking, long-term stuff - it is about our landscape history and our cultural heritage.

"This project is so resonant because it reminds us just how spectacular and wildlife-rich our countryside can look."

Some of the rare flowers which are found on Coronation meadows include greater butterfly orchids, which has experienced declines of almost half, adder's tongue ferns, moonwort and frog orchids.

Common species include cowslips, meadow buttercups, red clover and oxeye daisies.

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