The Open University

The Floodplain Meadows Conservation Project

The Open University is leading ‘The Floodplain Meadows Partnership’ in conjunction with other leading environmental organisations. The aim is to conserve and protect these species-rich habitats, through systemic environmental impact monitoring; sharing the research; and undertaking educational activities with those professionally responsible for their management as well as the wider public. This work is vital to make sure that there is no further loss of these habitats and to ensure that those remaining meadows are properly preserved for the future.

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Location

Situation

Flower-rich meadows are an important part of our heritage, our landscape and our natural capital. They are a resource that we should pass on in good condition to future generations. However during the last century, 98% of our meadows have been lost and the remaining areas now total less than 1000 ha – so few that they could all fit onto the Isles of Scilly or even into the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (one of London’s smallest!). Although protected by national and European law, the remaining floodplain meadows are now nominally managed for nature conservation. However the way they are managed may be sub-optimal and there is a real risk that this tiny remaining resource will be eroded through lack of knowledge. This 10-year project involves 3 key strands: 1. Research and long-term monitoring The key requirement for determining best conservation practice is continuous monitoring of the habitat’s condition. Focusing on impact from water level and nutrient change, the collection and assessment of data from five of the important sites in the UK will enable a better understanding of the habitat’s response to a changing environment. This will lead to the completion of a ‘Meadows Database’, an important reference set for all similar meadow types across the country. 2. Encouraging restoration projects Monitoring of restoration projects will be carried out and other project will be encouraged to do the same. A standard of monitoring compatible with the Meadows Database will be provided, enabling comparisons to be made across projects. The Project will find demonstration sites that can be promoted to show what is possible. 3. Dissemination A range of media, including workshops and courses; a website; a Management Handbook; newsletters; leaflets; and conferences, will be used in order to share experience and research with those concerned with the preservation of this important habitat and the wider public.

Solution