Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Seeds of Revived Life in Meadows; 'A Rare Machine to Conserve a Rare Habitat'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Seeds of Revived Life in Meadows; 'A Rare Machine to Conserve a Rare Habitat'

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor? 0191 201 6224 ? tony.henderson@ncjmedia.co.uk

WHEN it comes to restoring rare hay meadows, conservationists have been able to bank on the ingenuity of Tom Kristensen.

Steep banks and valley sides in the North Pennines, which have been impossible to cultivate or develop, are where many wild flowers which were once abundant across the landscape have survived.

Through its new Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) supported project Nectarworks, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership is now on a mission to harvest the seed from these banksides so that the flowers can be re-introduced.

But the banks are difficult to access and harvest the flower seed and the AONB Partnership turned to Niels and Tom Kristense, a father and son team of agricultural contractors.

Tom designed and built a special machine that can harvest and remove the vegetation from the flower-rich banks. The cut vegetation is then transported and spread on land where the team wish to re-introduce the flowers. The AONB Partnership has been working closely with the Kristensens to harvest and spread hay meadow seed since 2007 but only flat, easy-to-access meadows have previously been worked on.

Ruth Starr-Keddle, the AONB Partnership's Nectarworks project officer said: "I have spent several weeks surveying the banks this summer.

They are wonderful places, packed with fantastic plants like melancholy thistle and globeflower.

"If we can help to spread species like these back into the meadows not only will they look great but they'll provide a wonderful source of food for bumblebees and other nectar-feeders."

Tom Kristensen said: "It has been a challenge to build a machine that would cut the vegetation and still be stable in these awkward places. …

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