A brand new handbook on species-rich floodplain meadows. Comprehensive and beautifully illustrated, the handbook covers everything you need to know about the history, management, restoration and creation of this vitally important, yet threatened, habitat. Once very widespread, these iconic sites now occupy less than 1,500 ha in the UK. Floodplain meadows are both part of our heritage and inspirational wildlife habitats. They support a diversity of plant species rarely seen elsewhere, offering a home for a wealth of wildlife including birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. They are the product of a long agricultural tradition of managing floodplains to produce a valuable crop, and thereby provide a rich seam of rural history to explore.
Floodplain meadows require no artificial fertilisers yet remain productive during droughts and recover rapidly after floods. In addition, they supply many additional benefits to society for free, including storage and cleansing of floodwaters, sequestration of carbon and a very aesthetic contribution to the landscape. Mindful of the frequency of extreme flood events that have affected Britain in the period 2000–2015, encouraging resilient agricultural systems that can accommodate flood storage, yet bounce back to provide a crop that delivers both biodiversity and an economic return, is becoming an increasingly important priority.
Floodplain Meadows is aimed at anyone managing, restoring, or re-creating floodplain meadows, and those with a general interest in rural history and how it has influenced the floodplain wildlife we have today.
Chapter 1. Introduction 1
Chapter 2. The wildlife of floodplain meadows 5
Chapter 3. History and changing value of floodplain meadows 10
Chapter 4. Conservation 19
Chapter 5. Soils 25
Chapter 6. Nutrients 31
Chapter 7. Water 38
Chapter 8. Plant communities of floodplain meadows 45
Chapter 9. Management 57
Chapter 10. Restoration and creation of floodplain meadows 68
Chapter 11. Investigation and monitoring 87
Appendix: Additional plant communities of floodplain meadows 99
"[...] This new publication brings together the accumulated information and experience of many individuals and organisations. [...] This handbook is the product of wide-ranging enthusiasm and energetic action. It is not bedtime reading, inevitably, but will spark even greater enthusiasm and action."
– George Peterken, British Wildlife 27(6), August 2016