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Rare invention to help rare wilderness in the North Pennines
8:10pm Tuesday 27th August 2013 in News
A FATHER and son team have come up with a new invention to help restore and spread flower-rich grasslands.
Agricultural contractors Niels and Tom Kristensen came up with a unique machine which can harvest rare meadow flowers from the sides of steep banks in the North Pennines.
They will then be reintroduced in other areas as part of the Nectarworks project spearheaded by The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, based in Stanhope.
Their invention allows access to habitats on very steep banks and slopes where there is an abundance of plants, such as Wood-Cranes Bill, Knapweed and Globeflower.
Seeds have been harvested from seven sites across the North Pennines and more harvesting schemes are planned over the next three years.
Ruth Starr-Keddle, the AONB Partnership’s Nectarworks Project Officer said: “If we can help to spread species like these back into the meadows, not only will they look great but they’ll provide a wonderful source of food for bumblebees and other nectar-feeders.
“We will only be able to use seed from these special banks to enhance other places if the farmers and smallholders who own and manage them are willing to work with us.
“One of my priorities over the coming months and years is to talk to farmers about how they manage their banks now and how they were managed in the past.
“So far I have received a warm welcome which is wonderful as the future of these important places very much lies in their hands.”
The Kristensens, from Hexham, have worked with the AONB Partnership since 2007 to harvest flat land meadows but with one square metre of flower-rich grassland supporting up to 30 species, it is hoped that the new machinery will replenish the habitat which has declined by 98 per cent over the past 70 years.
Tom said: “It has been a challenge to build a machine that would cut the vegetation and still be stable in these awkward places.
“I’m not aware of any other machine like this one so it’s a case of a rare machine working to conserve a rare habitat.”
The project is part of Nectarworks, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Northumbrian Water’s Branch Out scheme.
For more information visit northpennines.org.uk
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