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.
This book 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.