A new grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has given a fresh boost to the work of the Open University-led Floodplain Meadows Partnership.
The Floodplain Meadows Partnership is an innovative project focusing on research, management, promotion and restoration of these special meadows in England and Wales.
The grant of £280,000 is to support the latest phase of the work of the partnership, to further the raise awareness on the need to protect ecologically important sites.
Species rich floodplain meadows have been created by a long history of consistent agricultural management. For hundreds of years, floodplain meadows have been an integral part of Britain’s landscape and rural economy.
Benefits such as helping to reduce flooding and store carbon
Britain lost 97% of its flower-rich meadows during the last century. The meadows found on floodplains were particularly hard hit by activities such as agricultural intensification and urban and industrial development.
Alongside benefits such as helping to reduce flooding and to store carbon, floodplain meadows are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna and are at the heart of local communities, providing beautiful places to walk and explore nature. Although designated a priority habitat (under Annex 1 of the EU Habitats Directive) the remaining meadows are still at risk.
Since 2007, the Floodplains Meadows Partnership (a group hosted by The Open University) have monitored and offered management advice to sites across the UK. Working with conservation practitioners, landowners, community groups and policy makers, the Partnership has used its expertise in floodplain-meadow ecology to promote the maintenance and restoration of sites.
David Gowing, Professor of Botany at the OU said:
As Director of the Floodplain Meadows Partnership, I am extremely grateful to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for their continued support.
Their latest grant will enable the Partnership to maintain its network of interested parties across the UK and its co-ordination role in monitoring the status of this rare and vulnerable habitat.
The timing of this award is particularly important because the future of these priceless meadows is uncertain in the face of climate change and given the added uncertainty of the UK’s agri-environmental policy post Brexit.
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK, funding the charitable work of organisations aiming to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK. The Foundation has provided valuable support to the OU for over 20 years on a variety of successful projects.