City of Meadows

, 10 August 2022
City of Meadows
Cottersmore Primary School © Miles Davies

By Katie Eberstein

Brighton & Hove Environmental Education Officer

Brighton & Hove is flanked to the north by rare chalk grassland, a rich habitat for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies. Nationally and locally these species are in decline, with one-third of Britain’s bee population disappearing over the past decade and a quarter of Europe’s bumblebees threatened with extinction. Over 97% of all flower-rich grasslands have been lost in England since the 1930s, and this loss is also evident in Sussex.

Recent research suggests that cities play an important role in conserving pollinators. Since Brighton & Hove declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in 2018, much has been done to encourage pollinators from the Downs into the city, with initiatives like wildflower verges, bee banks and leaving grass unmown.

Peter Gladwin Primary School © Miles Davies

Schools in the city are also playing their part – this year over 30 schools signed up to the ‘City of Meadows’ project. Each school has created either a micro, mini or medium meadow in their grounds. Pupils, staff and parents have helped clear the ground, sow local chalk grassland seed and watched as their meadows have sprung to life. In addition, wildflower plugs created by the local Stanmer Wildflower Conservation Society, who collect and propagate local seeds, have been supplied thanks to funding from the South Downs National Park Trust. In total an additional 1000 square meters of wildflower habitat has been created in school grounds in the city.

Many of the local urban schools have small playgrounds with little greenspace – however they have been creative, sowing their seed in pots, raised beds and even a wheelbarrow. In this case, it’s not size that matters – the key element is that schools are helping form a nature recovery network for pollinators, linking the city with the South Downs.

Wheelbarrow meadow at Mile Oak Primary School © Miles Davies

City of Meadows is run through the Brighton & Hove Environmental Education (BHee) programme, funded by Brighton & Hove City Council and delivered by Sussex Wildlife Trust.

We’ve been able spread important messages about nature, pollinators and how to take action to help wildlife through online teacher information sessions, assemblies to share with the whole school, and pollinator workshops with pupils.

Middle Street Primary School © Miles Davies

We’ve surveyed thousands of local young people and from this we know they care about nature, but also fear for its survival. In a time when so many young people are suffering eco-anxiety, this project not only gives hope for nature, but also gives hope to young people, giving them an opportunity to take action for wildlife and make a difference.

We hope that schools will enjoy the beauty and richness of their new resource, to inspire, engage and enrich the curriculum. As one child said ‘I feel proud that we are doing this for the bees...’

City of Meadows also recently featured on ITV Meridian

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Comments

  • Sue:

    I’m Interested in details for the City of Meadows project. I work in a primary that isn’t signed up yet.
    Thank you.

    11 Aug 2022 12:16:00

  • Sussex Wildlife Trust:

    Hi Sue, you can contact BHee on their website here

  • Val smith:

    I’ve done most of the hints above and I don’t know if anyone else has notice that there is a really serious lack of bees this year !

    11 Aug 2022 16:33:00

  • Niki Meyer:

    Tried to get our local ‘Housing association to let me do this on the grass bank outside our 5 bungalows. I was told it makes the place look untidy and encourages fly-tipping! Never heard such a load of old balony in my life.

    11 Aug 2022 18:22:00