Unimproved Cotswold Limestone Grassland

Unimproved limestone grassland is wildflower rich grassland found on shallow free draining and alkaline soils and is an important wildlife habitat. The Cotswolds holds a nationally important concentration of U.L.G. making its conservation and management a high priority considering that until recently probably 98% was believed lost.

The grasslands were predominately created by human activity and developed by early farmers clearing the forest to make grazing land for their livestock. The extensive wildflower rich grasslands once covering much of the Cotswolds were particularly important to the medieval wool merchants whose wealth provided the great houses and fine wool churches still found in many of the towns and villages. Low lying or easily accessible 'sheepwalk' areas have largely now been ploughed or agriculturally improved except on the steep slopes of the Cotswold escarpment, valley sides and where designated as Common. A further problem; as happened at Stinchcombe Hill and many other outstanding high landscapes is due to loss of grazing then allowing scrub followed by tree growth to spread upwards from the margins. The Cotswolds now contain only about 3,oooha of wildflower rich grassland scattered over some 400 different sites; but may contain more than 100 species of wild flowers and grasses and 25 species of butterfly is not unusual.

For more information on conservation mornings, more details, comments on particular favourite areas etc, please email: stinchcombehill.rrmail.com.