Lincolnshire Wolds

The wildflower meadows of the Lincolnshire Wolds provide a perfect habitat for many plants and a rich ecosystem for wildlife.

The Lincolnshire Wolds are a range of chalk hills in eastern Lincolnshire and comprise the Lincolnshire Wolds Living Landscape. Once a pastoral landscape rich in grassland, the Wolds became arable following modern agricultural intensification.  As a result the verdant hay meadows and the wildflowers that thrived in the dry soil of the hills have mostly disappeared.  

The Wolds were a key focus for our Life on the Verge project, which successfully surveyed wildflower populations on most of the quiet road verges that stretch across the area. These verges are remnants of ancient routes and drove roads that were found to offer a haven to many wildflower species and provide corridors of wildlife linking different parts of the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Why are chalk grasslands important?

Chalk is a porous limestone rock, meaning water flows through it rather than collecting on its surface. As a chalk landscape the Lincolnshire Wolds are characterised by dry lime-rich soils, which provide a perfect habitat for many wildflowers and an abundance of organisms. However, this shallow soil structure also makes these grassland ecosystems very fragile and easy to destroy.

Because of the diverse array of wild plants and animals that these landscapes support and because of their relative scarcity in Britain and Europe, they are of high conservation value. Within the Wolds richer ‘drift soils’ deposited during the ice age also support an additional collection of grassland plants and associated wildlife.

Scarce and declining grassland plants include adder’s tongue fern, meadow saxifrage, orchids and are important food plants for declining butterfly species. Many bird species at risk depend on grasslands including barn owl, skylark, grey partridge, linnet and corn bunting.

Further reading / external Links:

Natural England - Lincolnshire Wolds