As with all the Environment Wales grants, us Development Officers are 75% funded through the initiative, the remaining 25% has to be found by our core partners, in my case Groundwork Caerphilly.
A few years back I was asked, by Groundwork Wales, to come up with a project aligned to our core objectives and one which could help draw in 25% match funding. So I got to thinking, how could I use my qualifications and skills and what would I be happy doing? The answer hit me almost instantly; I would set up a wildflower education and awareness project to increase understanding of the vital role wildflower habitats play in modern life.
Did you know that we have lost 98% of our wildflower rich meadows since the second world war and unfortunately they can’t be easily recreated with a packet of seeds. Complex systems and relationships need to be established between the flowers and soil funguses (mycorrhiza) before a diverse and dynamic habitat is formed. We rely on natural habitats, wildflower habitats included, to provide us with clean, fresh water, to help alleviate flooding and provide a home and food for many species including those which contribute significantly to our economy and food security. They also harbour such genetic diversity that up to 75% of all our medicines were originally derived from plants. And if that isn’t enough they are just a great place to relax, which by the way is also clinically proven.
So over the last couple of years I have been putting together education packs, helping groups secure funding to grow their own wildflower habitats and have directly sown over 42,502 m2 of wildflower seeds. I have put together an education website and started compiling an online identification tool which has seen me spending summer days in the countryside taking pictures; its hard work but someone has to do it!