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What does social investment have to do with wildflowers?

2 October 2014

Knapweed, meadow vetchling, yellow rattle, goldilocks buttercup, burnet saxifrage and devil’s-bit scabious: 97% of the lowland meadows where these wildflowers grow has been lost in the UK since World War Two.

So how can social investment, where an investor invests in order to make a financial return and a positive social impact, grow wildflowers too?

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust can answer this question, after raising the money to buy the 16 hectare Hollybed Farm Meadows this summer. When the meadows came up for auction in 2012, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation  - with the agreement of the Wildlife Trust - purchased them and gave the Trust until August of this year to raise the funds to pay us back.

The Trust has been managing the site, which includes ten meadows, an orchard and small wet woodland, as a nature reserve since drawing up the agreement with Esmée in 2012. As part of this work they have been spreading seed taken from Far Starling Bank (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) across the rest of the site to help increase the spread of plants throughout the individual fields.

This investment was made as part of our Land Purchase Fund, through which we work with three major conservation organisations (the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, and the Woodland Trust) to purchase sites of strategic conservation importance. The organisations are then given a two year window to fundraise and buy the land from us. So far we have made eleven offers on land totalling over £8million, with six fully paid back and secured for conservation so far.

The story of saving Hollybed Farm Meadows, illustrated by some beautiful photographs, can be found on Worcestershire Wildlife Trust's website.