What we want

© CIEEM - Photography by David McKibbin

What we want

We use our research, data and knowledge in order to influence and feed into key areas of policy significant for floodplain meadows including agricultural reform, water quality, flooding and nature recovery.  We engage with parliamentarians and civil servants and use our membership of NGO alliances, such as Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL), to reinforce key messages about the benefits of floodplain meadows and the need for functioning floodplains.

The contribution that species rich grasslands such as floodplain meadows can play have been on the whole unacknowledged compared to that of woodland or peatland, but we are now beginning to see a growing recognition of the value of this habitat:

Tree planting should not occur on peat soils and floodplains would be better used for restoring floodplain meadows rather than afforestation projects.

Environmental Audit Committee report 'Biodiversity in the UK: bloom or bust?'

Our Key Policy Objectives

  • To promote floodplain meadows as an effective, multifunctional and sustainable use of land. Meadows should be recognised as making floodplains more resilient, capable of mitigating and adapting to climate change.
  • To ensure the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) Scheme recognises floodplains as a specific land type and prioritises habitat restoration of floodplain meadows as a key means of delivering resilient floodplains.
  • To demonstrate that floodplain meadows can form part of a sustainable productive agricultural model.
  • To illustrate the role species-rich grasslands can play in enhancing the landscape, such that they become recognised and supported within government policies.
  • To share findings on soil-carbon sequestration and nutrient trapping within meadows in order to build relationships with the national carbon- and nutrient-trading schemes currently under development.
  • An overall Floodplain Strategy allowing for an alignment of different policies and financing, enabling floodplains to deliver significantly greater public goods.

Nature recovery

Floodplains need to be future-proofed by setting targets for functioning floodplain habitats.  

  1. 25% of floodplain area needs to be no/low input grassland (which equates to almost 200,000 ha) within 25 years – this is based on our knowledge of restoration potential and the scale we believe is necessary for functionality.
  2. 70,000 ha of this area to be speciesrich grassland habitat in Favourable Conservation Status – to deliver high-nature-value floodplains and to export nutrients from riverine systems in sufficient quantity to allow natural processes to recover 

There is a growing recognition of the contribution species-rich habitats, such as floodplain meadows, can make to both the climate and biodiversity crises. However there has been a substantial loss of such species-rich habitats over the last century due to changes in land-use. Nearly 70% of floodplain land is now intensively managed whereas all semi-natural habitats combined occupy a mere 11%. Species-rich meadows once dominated land-use on English floodplains, but now only fragments remain. These remnants are no longer able to provide all the benefits they could.   

There are gaps within relevant policies such as agricultural funding and water management which do not specifically recognise floodplain land as hydrologically complex and vulnerable. Floodplains should be treated as a distinct entity in all land-related policies, with their contributions recognised and promoted. We need to make the most of our land with all farming practices being both nature- and climate-friendly. 

The recently introduced Nature Recovery Network (NNR) and Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) are critical for floodplain landscape recovery. Floodplains should be recognised as a distinct land type with priority areas mapped for restoration. This should also reflect the wider environmental benefits that come from restoring natural processes and biodiverse environments. The Local Nature Recovery Strategies should be key to guiding agreements between local stakeholders regarding the aspirations for floodplain restoration. We have already contributed to two pilot studies with Buckinghamshire and Cumbria. 

We will be looking to develop plans on how best to feed into guidance and developing LNRS across England. In addition, CaBA groups work on catchment management are another significant strand of decision making within floodplains see  https://catchmentbasedapproach.org/

We will continue the dialogue around floodplain policy in relation to the 25-year Environment Strategy and the recently published Environmental Improvement Plan. In particular we are calling for a Floodplain Strategy - allowing floodplains to deliver greater public goods – and much greater recognition of species rich grassland.  



We have built alliances with relevant bodies across the food, farming, nature and water sectors, to build a shared idea of the future of the countryside based around sustainable food production and nature recovery. Connections with organisations such as the Sustainable Soil Alliance, Wildlife and Countryside Link, Plantlife and the Nature Friendly Farming Network have led to collaborative activities and the sharing of information. We have worked with the APPG for Nature on a parliamentary event to discuss the importance of floodplain meadows, challenges in realising their full potential, and opportunities to address these through Environmental Land Management Schemes. MPs and Peers Spotlight Importance of Delivering Resilient Floodplains for Nature and Tackling Climate Emergency | CIEEM

We will be looking to develop plans on how best to feed into guidance and developing LNRS across England. In addition, CaBA groups work on catchment management are another significant strand of decision making within floodplains see https://catchmentbasedapproach.org/.