Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

Blakehill airfield habitat restoration

In 2000 the 235 hectare former Blakehill airfield near Cricklade in Wiltshire became the site of the UK’s largest restoration of an ancient wildflower meadow, meeting 50% of the government’s target for restoring ancient meadows to 2010. Intensified agriculture has resulted in the loss of 97% of UK hay meadows in the last 50 years.

The restoration of Blakehill will bring back wildflowers such as knapweed, devil’s-bit scabious and saw-wort; butterflies including meadow brown, white letter hairstreak and orange tip; and birds such as skylark and curlews. The scrub woodlands at the edge of the fields will also attract nightingales, barn owls and reed buntings.

Funding provided by Restore Our Planet purchased and erected bat and owl boxes in a building to the north-east of the site, near suitable hedgerows and boundaries, and in an old underground bunker on the site. Hedgerow restoration was also undertaken in order to create a vital corridor for wildlife.

Old runway strip with ox eye daisy and knapweed.
Photo: © WWT

Sunrise view, East from entrance.
Photo: © WWT