Ecover: Fertilise the Future

Ecover: Fertilise the Future

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Floodplain meadows are grasslands that provide much-needed space for flood water to spread out. Their benefits are numerous and in addition to mitigating flood risks, they improve water quality, increase carbon storage, support sustainable farming and are home to a diverse range of species.

With Ecover's support, the Floodplain Meadows Partnership team at the OU and partners Long Mead's Thames Valley Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project and the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust will focus on restoring a section of the Thames valley floodplain. Over the next three years, Long Mead’s Thames Valley Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project will actively work with local farmers to restore 50 hectares of this area to beautiful diverse meadows, which will create a continuous wildflower corridor of connected habitats of international importance.

Soil samples collected from key meadow sites in the project area by the partners will be analysed at OU laboratories to build a picture of how carbon stores change over time in restored meadows. We hope to use this evidence to show that floodplain meadows are a more effective, reliable and longer-term carbon store than other habitats and should be recognised as being just as important as trees and peat as a nature-based solution.

As well as soil carbon, we will also be measuring how the plant and invertebrate species change as a result of restoration activity, both at the new restoration sites, and at older restoration sites, so we can build a picture of gains over time for floodplain meadow restoration.

Floodplain meadows stretch back a thousand years and were once the backbone of the rural economy in England. Now over 97% of these habitats have been lost. With Ecover's support, we will provide evidence of the value of functioning meadows and continue advocating for floodplain restoration as a vital tool in tackling the climate emergency.

Tree-planting is widely regarded as the most effective nature-based system, however there are numerous risks for above-ground carbon stores, such as felling, burning or disease.

In addition to providing a long-term store for carbon and space for flood water, floodplain meadows provide numerous other benefits for humans and wildlife alike.

To take action:

1. Across Oxfordshire

If you want to get involved in this project, and are based locally to the Eynsham/Cumnor area, you can volunteer for the Thames Valley Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project or join the Nature Recovery Network by getting in touch with Long Mead Local Wildlife Site.

Volunteer at Chimney Meadows, a floodplain meadow owned and managed by BBOWT:

Volunteer with BBOWT on other habitats.

2. Across the UK

  • Take action for wildlife from your home: (eg grow a wild patch; eg make a garden for wildlife)
  • Write to your MP to support floodplain meadows as nature based solutions that should be seen as equal to trees or peat in their ability to sequester and store carbon.

Logos for the ECover, Floodplain Meadows, The Open University, Long Mead and Berkshire/Buckinghamse/Oxfordshire wildlife