RARE meadows in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are getting special attention as part of a national conservation project.

The £3m Save Our Magnificent Meadows scheme has supported the appointment of two new members of staff at the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

Eleanor Reast and Katherine Holmes have joined as a conservation officer and community engagement officer, forming a dedicated Cotswolds team for Save Our Magnificent Meadows, which is funded primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund and led by nature organisation Plantlife.

Ms Reast, who grew up in the Cotswolds, used to work for the RSPB and was a community scientist at Imperial College in London before taking up her new post.

Ms Holmes, from Charlbury, has worked in ecology and nature conservation for over five years, helping the local community to restore a lowland heathland Site of Special Scientific Interest and carrying out wildlife and ecological assessments for an Oxfordshire consultancy.

The Cotswolds element of the project will focus on the restoration of flower-rich limestone grasslands in the AONB over the next three years.

A team of grassland volunteers will be recruited and events organised to get the public involved, alongside species surveys and restoration of up to 1,125 hectares of wildflower grassland.

The AONB contains more than 50 per cent of the UK’s total Jurassic unimproved limestone grassland, which is home to a large number of rare plants and butterflies.

In the 1930s 40 per cent of the Cotswolds AONB area was covered in Jurassic limestone grassland, but today that figure has fallen to less than 1.5 per cent or 7,413 acres.