Dallow Downs & Winsdon Hill (DD&WH) and Cowslip Meadow, have gained national status as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), as announced by Natural England on 14th October 2020.
Since the 1930's over 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost, but the new SSSI status will mean that 48 hectares of land will receive strong legal protection.
The areas boast a rich array of wildflower-rich grassland and rare plants. They also have woodlands that are home to warblers and plants, and wetlands with a variety of species including slow worm, water vole, and southern marsh orchid. The chalk grasslands are home to a wide range of invertebrates including the marbled white butterfly and Cowslip Meadow hosts a number of grassland, scrub, and water bodies, which a range of birds find sanctuary in, and red kites can be seen in DD&WH.
Protecting the habitats in these areas in turn protects the waterway which runs through them - the River Lea. The Luton Lea Catchment Partnership is continually working to improve the health of the river and the areas around it. This is a welcome achievement for the areas of Cowslip Meadow and DD&WH.
Sarah Culverwell of Groundwork East and member of the Luton Lea Catchment Partnership said: "This is fantastic news. These two precious areas will now be protected and we hope to see them continue to thrive in the future. Everyone is thrilled at the Catchment Partnership to hear the areas gain SSSI, the first to achieve this for many years. We thank and congratulate Luton Borough Council and Natural England and look forward to seeing more preservation and conservation work on the sites."