A GRANT of more than six figures has been award to Cotswolds Conservation Board for a "valuable" conservation project in the Cotswolds.

The board has been awarded a grant of more than £200,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for a project that will conserve, restore and create wildflower-rich limestone grasslands across the Cotswolds.

The project, Glorious Cotswolds Grasslands, aims to create the largest network of wildflower rich Jurassic limestone grassland in the country – around 100 hectares in total, over three years.

Known as the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), this area contains just over half the UK’s wildflower rich Jurassic limestone grassland.

The project hopes to secure the long term management of the precious grasslands through farming and community engagement, alongside practical and educational activity.

These grasslands are fragmented and vulnerable, and in urgent need of intervention to maintain, restore, and crucially, to expand and connect them by creating new wildflower-rich grassland.

The central aims of the project are to collect seed from existing wildflower rich grasslands and sow them on sites to restore or create new grasslands, provide advice and guidance on managing grasslands to maximise their benefit – for wildlife and people, provide practical assistance such as managing scrub and invasive species, work with communities and highway authorities to improve road verges to create a network of flower-rich corridors, and establish a sustainable service to deliver advice, equipment, and advocacy beyond the life of the project.

Mark Connelly, land management officer at Cotswolds Conservation Board, said: “We’re delighted that the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has supported the Glorious Cotswolds Grasslands project.

"Their generous grant will allow us to implement this ambitious project, and will help us give Cotswolds grasslands - and the fantastic wealth of wildlife to be found in them - a better chance for the future.”

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK and aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK.

Simon Wightman, from the foundation, added: “We are pleased to support the conservation, restoration and creation of wildflower rich grasslands across the Cotswolds.

"Trustees were especially impressed by the Conservation Board’s commitment to finding a sustainable approach to grassland management beyond the end of the grant period.

"Trustees also applauded the project’s focus on education, and on exchanging learning with other organisations involved in grassland management. We are keen to hear how the project progresses.”

Anyone interested in getting involved in the project can contact Mark Connelly at Cotswolds Conservation Board, by emailing mark.connelly@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk.