Today, Natural England is taking a proactive step to safeguard the future health and resilience of Malvern Common, near Great Malvern, by designating it a Site of Special Scientific interest. The SSSI covers 20.75 hectares of the common and will help to deliver benefits for the people of wildlife across the Malvern landscape.
Malvern Common is cherished for its natural environment of species-rich grassland. Due to changing agricultural practice and neglect, this habitat is in decline nationally. It is estimated that by 1984 in lowland England and Wales, semi-natural grassland had declined by 97 per cent over the previous 50 years. Since then this national decline has continued into the 21st Century.
These habitats support colourful flowers such as lady’s bedstraw, common knapweed, bird’s-foot-trefoil and orchids and wildlife including the marbled white and green hairstreak butterflies. The Common also plays a vital role in our own lives, providing recreational benefits.
Emma Johnson, Natural England Area Manager for the West Midlands said, “We’re lucky to have such an amazingly rare species rich grassland in the Malvern area. It provides a wonderful place for people and nature. We see the designation as an important step in making sure it is enjoyed and thrives well into the future.”
The designation recognises the special wildlife and flora. It will complement the existing management measures for Malvern Common and the Malvern Hills as a whole, alongside their use as a quiet spot for recreation.
Jonathan Bills, Conservation Manager with the Malvern Hills Trust, said “Malvern Hills Trust staff and board members are delighted at the news of SSSI status for Malvern Common. As land owner we have put in a lot of work over the years to improve the grassland wildlife here through traditional hay-cutting.
This has clearly worked as in summer it is literally full of orchids and buzzing with life, providing a stunning backdrop to many people’s lives. We shall continue to strike a balance between the wildlife here and its use as a tranquil spot for recreation.”
While Natural England is leading on this new designation, this achievement is thanks to the hard work and support of the Malvern Hills Trust and other stakeholders who have, through strong partnership working, brought about this new protection and will continue to manage the site as a hay meadow so that future generations can enjoy the flowers and wildlife.