Meadow restoration

© Mike Dodd

Meadow restoration


Meadow restoration is an effective method of diversifying the vegetation of floodplains.  A nationwide survey  of restoration schemes, undertaken by FMP (2016-2018), demonstrated the importance of consistent and focused management for achieving restoration success. The survey compares various restoration techniques (e.g., seed mixture, spread of green hay, plug plants), showing that success is less a function of the particular technique chosen and more dependent on the subsequent management of the site.


At least five botanical samples (1 x 1 m quadrat) have been surveyed at each restoration scheme visited. Number of plant species per 1 m2, NVC type of plant community, Ellenberg indicator values for soil moisture, nitrogen and pH, as well as the relative frequency of Grime’s functional types (competitor, stress-tolerator, ruderal) have been calculated for each field to quantify progress in restoration.
Detailed information about each field was gathered from individual interviews with land owners/managers.

Research aims

  1. To evaluate the success of meadow-restoration schemes nationwide.
  2. To consider the role of plant-community assembly in sustaining the functional diversity of vegetation.

Related projects

2020 – 2023    Floodplain Meadows Restoration Project in England and Wales, Phase 2. Funded by The John Ellerman Foundation. Emma Rothero, Irina Tatarenko.
2016 – 2018    Floodplain Meadows Restoration Project in England and Wales, Phase 1. Funded by The John Ellerman Foundation. Emma Rothero, Irina Tatarenko.


Our publications

Rothero, Emma; Tatarenko, Irina and Gowing, David (2020). Recovering lost hay meadows: An overview of floodplain-meadow restoration projects in England and Wales. Journal for Nature Conservation, 58, article no. 125925. 

Rothero, Emma and Tatarenko, Irina (2018). Restoration success of British floodplain meadows. In: Aspects of Applied Biology 139: Ecosystem & Habitat Management: Research, Policy, Practice, Association of Applied Biologists, Warwick pp. 139–148.

Fry, Ellen L.; Pilgrim, Emma S.; Tallowin, Jerry R.B.; Smith, Roger S.; Mortimer, Simon R.; Beaumont, Deborah A.; Simkin, Janet; Harris, Stephanie J.; Sheil, Robert S.; Quirk, Helen; Harrison, Kate A.; Lawson, Clare S.; Hobbs, Phil .J and Bardgett, Richard D. (2017). Plant, soil and microbial controls on grassland diversity restoration: a long-term, multi-site mesocosm experiment. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54(5) pp. 1320–1330.

Woodcock, Ben A.; Westbury, Duncan B.; Brook, Alex J.; Lawson, Clare S.; Edwards, Andrew R.; Harris, Stephanie J.; Heard, Matthew S.; Brown, Valerie K. and Mortimer, Simon R. (2012). Effects of seed addition on beetle assemblages during the re-creation of species-rich lowland hay meadows. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 5(1) pp. 19–26.

Woodcock, Ben A.; Vogiatzakis, Ioannis N.; Westbury, Duncan B.; Lawson, Clare S.; Edwards, Andrew R.; Brook, Alex J.; Harris, Stephanie J.; Lock, Kerry A.; Maczey, Norbert; Masters, Greg; Brown, Valerie K. and Mortimer, Simon R. (2010). The role of management and landscape context in the restoration of grassland phytophagous beetles. Journal of Applied Ecology, 47(2) pp. 366–376.

Lepš, Jan; Doležal, Jiri; Bezemer, T. Martijn; Brown, Valerie K.; Hedlund, Katarina; Igual-Arroyo, Mariano; Jörgensen, Helene Bracht; Lawson, Clare S.; Mortimer, Simon R.; Peix-Geldart, Alvaro; Rodríguez Barrueco, Claudino; Santa Regina, Ignacio; Šmilauer, Petr and van der Putten, Wim H. (2007). Long-term effectiveness of sowing high and low diverse seed mixtures to enhance plant community development on ex-arable fields. Applied Vegetation Science, 10(1) pp. 97–110.

Woodcock, B. A.; Lawson, C. S.; Mann, D. J. and McDonald, A. W. (2006). Effects of grazing management on beetle and plant assemblages during the re-creation of a flood-plain meadow. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 116(3-4) pp. 225–234.

Lawson, Clare S.; Ford, Martin A. and Mitchley, Jonathan (2004). The influence of seed addition and cutting regime on the success of grassland restoration on former arable land. Applied Vegetation Science, 7(2) pp. 259–266.