The Stort Valley Meadows consist of three separate parcels of land located in the River Stort Valley, two of which, (Marshgate Spring and Maymeads Marsh) are adjacent but separated by the London to Cambridge railway line. The third site, (Parndon Moat Marsh), is about one kilometre to the west.
The three sites are an important landscape feature showing the kind of wetlands, carr and swamps, which would naturally have been found in a river valley. Maymeads is an example of flood pasture grassland, now part of the Town Park. The wood at Marshgate Spring has seen coppicing in the past, though there is little that remains to indicate this. The Parndon Mill section has a former moated house site, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, partly lost when the railway was constructed through it, and the eastern end of this site was the Burnt Mill sewage farm until circa 1950, still indicated by the luxuriant growth of Nettles in this area.
These three sites are linked by drainage ditches to the River Stort, and they provide a mosaic of habitats including woodland, wetland, reedbeds, emergent vegetation and open water in ponds and channels which all support a rich diversity of wildlife.
On the other side of the town located alongside a brook off Katherines way sits Hawkenbury Meadow. Many species of wild meadow flowers and marshland plants sit peacefully within neutral grassland and mature woodland.
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You can become a volunteer for wildspaces! or a volunteer warden helping to maintain the conservation areas and wildspaces of Harlow.
The meadows can be accessed via the Marshgate underpass under Edinburgh Way. Some were covered with spoil when Harlow was constructed from the 1950’s onwards - 1.3 hectares of these meadows are now being restored thanks to funding secured from the ‘Tesco Bags of Help’ scheme and Harlow Council in 2016 by the volunteer group Harlow Wildlife Projects (HWP).
Since the 1950’s Britain has lost over 90% of our wildflower meadows due to intensive farming and building developments. Many of our pollinating insects (such as the bees from our hive in the Town Park) rely on native wildflowers (found at the Stort Valley Meadows) for nectar and pollen. With this project we hope to redress some of this loss of flower rich grassland.
Please note that the wildflower meadow restoration project is not a quick process - annual species are likely to produce flowers in the first year, and perennial species taking at least two years to become established enough to flower.
Planned works for 2017 is shown below, (timing may vary due to the weather):
|March 2017||Meadow grass cut and all arisings removed from the site.|
|April 2017||First herbicide spraying of Glyphosate when new growth appearing, to remove aggressive plants.|
|May 2017||Cultivation of area and second spraying carried out to control any new grass re-growth and to remove aggressive plants.|
|June 2017||Second cultivation of area.|
|July 2017||Further spraying carried out (if necessary) to provide a clean site clear of any old vegetation growth.|
|August 2017||Final cultivation carried out ready for Autumn seed sowing.|
|September 2017||Seed mixture sown containing native wildflower species and non-vigorous grasses, ground surface lightly compacted.|
If you have any queries on the mashes or meadows or this project please contact Mike Levett on 01279 435466 or firstname.lastname@example.org