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pathway mowed through wildflowers at Matara

Habitats at Matara

Our destruction of nature can be reversed by rebuilding habitats. 

Here at Matara we started this rebuilding 25 years ago by gifting 50% of the land to four types of wildlife habitats - grasslands, hedgerows, woodlands and lakes. 

These four habitats and the life they support are truly amazing.

Our intention at Matara is to try to maintain a balance between human intention and nature’s response. We are stewards of land that becomes richer as each year passes, attracting wildlife and people. We hope visiting here inspires others to do the same.

Matara is a place to share, a place to enjoy and a place of joy.

Hedgerow Habitat at Matara

Hedgerow Habitats

Hedgerows are iconic in our English landscape, forming the patchwork of fields in ‘this other Eden’. For many of us they recall childhood pleasures of cow parsley and may flower, humming bees in dog roses and purple hands from stuffing blackberries. They provide food and nectar, (sometimes the only plant a particular butterfly relies on), shelter from the extremes of weather, perching and nesting sites, prospect and protection from predators. Each plant species forms part of an intricate, interlinked ecosystem, supporting insects, birds and animals, which in their turn support others higher up the food chain.

Pond and Lake Habitats

The electric blue flash of damselflies; the soft reflection of a full moon in dark water; the subtle crackling sound of ice crystals forming; this is some of the magic of the lake. Vibrant with life, its tranquillity enfolds us, calming our minds and restoring our energy. Ponds and lakes are also rich habitats for wildlife. The water supports not only fish but also insects, amphibians, birds, and mammals. The plant covered banks support nesting birds, insect larvae, bees, butterflies, and moths. This wealth of plant and animal life attracts yet further birds and mammals who feed on them. Being part of this interconnectedness of the natural world is our heritage.

Ponds and Lake Habitats at Matara
Woodland Habitat at Matara

Woodland Habitats

Fresh green leaves in dappled sunshine, the sound of wind in the trees, echoing bird song, kicking through fallen leaves like a wilful child – these are some of the joys of woodland. Being in woodland, if we slow down enough to let ourselves be immersed in it, is an unimaginably rich experience, which engages all our senses. Each tree and plant supports numerous animals, which in turn support the plant or provide food for other creatures, building a complex whole, which has the ability to modify create microclimates, produce rain and generate oxygen for the air we breathe. This is the symbiotic complexity of the interconnected web of life. No original forest now remains in England, and generally we are unable to imagine the sheer size of the ancient wildwood trees and the ‘forest’ of plants which lived in their branches and bark as they matured and decayed. Yet woodland remains one of our richest habitats, a place of childhood dens and exploration, and of ‘grown-up’ pleasure in nature. At Matara we are preserving our existing woodland and have planted new areas with a wide mixture of woodland species.

Grassland Habitats

The wind making waves within the sea of grasses; the rippling song of the skylark; walking barefoot in the dew; the sweet smell of newly crushed grass; lying in long grass watching the clouds; the constantly changing tapestry of flowering plants and the bees, butterflies and moths which visit them. These are some of the pleasures of grassland.

In the Cotswolds, in addition to a few hay meadows we also have some limestone grasslands, which is known for the huge number of butterfly and moth species they support, as well as the rare orchids which thrive there. At Matara our grassland has been run organically for many years, and we are encouraging wild flora to establish and spread through it both by introducing seed and by appropriate management.

Grasslands Habitat at Matara
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