Friends of Ballard Meadow

Information on this is under development

Friends of Ballard Meadow

In surveys carried out in 2003, 92% of local people felt strongly that open land such as Ballard Meadow should be protected. Ballard Meadow, now in the ownership of New Milton Town Council, is a 2.65 hectare site of unimproved grass land, grazed until 1995, which forms an important amenity area for local residents. In 1998 it was designated a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation) and green belt land. The habitats on site include meadow, ancient woodland and a stream.

The Partnership brought together interested parties, including local residents, to form the Friends of Ballard Meadow to help improve the conservation and management of the woodland, wetland and meadow. The Friends now operate independently of the Partnership and are affiliated to the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (now renamed The Conservation Volunteers).

The aim of the Friends is to conserve the site, its flora, fauna and wildlife habitats as a community resource and promote its use by local people and visitors as a place for the quiet enjoyment and study of the countryside. It promotes practical conservation, fundraising and environmental education.

Ballard Meadow, with woodland on leftThe Friends have worked hard to raise funds for their activities in the meadow, and over time have worked tirelessly to clear the woodland of trees and shrubs, such as holly, that previously blocked out too much light.

The result of this is that the number of bluebells and other flowering plants has greatly increased.

The Friends also clear ditches and streams and work very hard to eradicate poisonous and pernicious weeds such as giant hogweed. A cutting schedule for the meadow has been agreed by the town council which allows grasses and flowering plants to set seed.

The Partnership subsequently assisted the town council with getting environmental management Ballard Meadow and Barton Common onto Natural England’s Higher Level Countryside Stewardship scheme and was instrumental in moving this to a successful conclusion.

This enabled access to EU funding for a ten year programme which paid for fencing and other environmental improvements, to allow meadow and common areas to be grazed at certain times of the year, plus a comprehensive programme of tree management.

Works undertaken have included litter picking, clearing brambles, cutting holly, reinstating paths, building bridges, mapping and carrying out surveys of flora and fauna.

If anyone is interested in getting involved with the Friends, please contact us and we will put you in touch with the appropriate person.