In the Belfast Hills there are important pockets of ‘unimproved’ grassland (grassland which has not been intensively managed) on which a wide range of wildflowers flourish. Wildflowers are not just beautiful to look at but are important for:
- Attracting and sustaining beneficial wildlife (the pollinators and other creatures essential to keeping the plant and animal kingdom – and us – going)
- Creating extensive recycling, composting and self-regulating water filtration systems
- Adding to erosion control
- Nurturing the expansion of a wide range of living organisms
Many of the wildflower areas have shrunk over the past few decades. In the UK we have lost 97 per cent of lowland semi-natural grassland, 20 per cent of chalk grassland and thousands of miles of hedgerow. This is the effect of intensive agriculture and, in urban areas, an obsession with neatness. We do not know the exact figures of loss for the Belfast Hills; however we know that the same issues of loss are in effect. The result is that some wildflower species and insects are no longer present e.g. the marsh fritillary butterfly.
We aim to:
- To make significant change in the quality of the Belfast Hills urban fringe and rural areas by improving the condition of grasslands for the benefit of biodiversity in particular pollinating insects e.g. bees and butterflies.
- To catalyse change led by young people, by investing in both the direct improvement of the environment and the development of young people.
- To encourage young people to increase their knowledge and develop new skills that will enhance their future employability
- To create a sustainable source of wildflower seeds