Great Stour Meadow

Givaudan factory, Kennington Road, Ashford


KSCP has created many new wild flower meadows over the years, both rural ones through the Countryside/ Environmental Stewardship Scheme and urban ones, particularly in Ashford. Meadows suffered one the largest declines of any habitat in the 20th century so we have always looked for opportunities to create new ones.

In the shadow of the large Givaudan fragrance factory on Kennington Road, Ashford, was 5 acre (2 hectare) field alongside the River Great Stour. It belonged to Givaudan (the company was called Quest at the time) and they had leased it out to a farmer who used it for arable crops. Its wildlife value was virtually nil. In 2002, we worked with Quest to sow the field as a wild flower meadow. Plant species included ox-eye daisy, black knapweed and field scabious, although grasses dominate as in all meadows.

This kick-started lots more habitat creation in and around the meadow: a second, smaller meadow was created; hedges and small patches of trees were planted; two ponds were dug; work was done to restore the river to a more natural shape; barn owl boxes, reptile hibernacula, and ‘bug hotels’ for invertebrates were installed. A leaflet and interpretive panels tell visitors what to look out for.

Our work with Givaudan here has won awards.

By replacing the meadows lost to changes in agriculture, we are not only bringing back a much-loved and beautiful landscape, we are creating a habitat for a whole host of wildlife. As well as the wild flowers themselves, meadows support an incredible array and quantity of insects and other invertebrates. The most obvious of these are butterflies like the meadow brown and gatekeeper, but meadows are also important for moths, beetles, flies, bugs and spiders. They are also nesting habitat for birds like skylark and meadow pipit. The other enhancements have greatly added to the wildlife potential of a once barren field – habitats for slow worms, viviparous lizards, grass snakes, barn owls, dragonflies, damselflies, aquatic plants and insects, and farmland birds. The meadow can be visited by prior arrangement with Givaudan (download the leaflet below for details) and is regularly used by youth groups as well as providing a relaxing environment for their workers.

Givaudan, Environment Agency (river work)

Great Stour Meadow Trail leaflet (PDF 569KB)


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