Also known as a floodmeadow, a flood-meadow refers to a section of land that is covered by pasture or grass and is prone to seasonal flooding. A similar feature is known as water meadow although the two have a slight difference. In the case of a water meadow, the feature is created artificially, which also means that the seasonal flooding is more controlled. As such, the creators of the artificial meadow can choose to flood it seasonally or every day depending on the need. Flood meadows have been in existence since antiquity as farmers and pastoralists recognized the value of the meadows. Flood meadows include the Angel & Greyhound Meadow in Oxford, Mottey Meadows in Staffordshire, and the Christ Church Meadow in Oxford.
One of the most important benefits of these features is that they help in the natural management of floods, which would otherwise wreak havoc elsewhere. In periods of intense rainfall, the excess water does not overwhelm settlements such as cities and towns. In addition, the meadows are natural filters of water, which means that the areas close to them have a supply of clean and fresh water. For this reason, some historical cities were built close to the flood meadows where they could get access to fresh water and protection against flooding.
Another benefit of flood meadows is that they provide the perfect habitats for a rare and diverse ecosystem that has beautiful flora and fauna. The flood meadows are able to support unique ecosystems due to a number of reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that they are naturally highly productive without the need for artificial ways to increase productivity. In addition, they are able to recover quickly and nicely after a flooding season. Lastly, since they are technically riparian zones, these zones have soils that have enough moisture, which translates to constant productivity even during dry seasons.
In the past, plant and livestock farmers recognized the need to protect these meadows since they could grow food and pasture for animals constantly. In fact, some farmers from the 1980s have liked flood meadows to natural hospitals, that is, most sick animals tended to recover after grazing from the fields.
Christ Church Meadow, Oxford
This meadow is a popular spot for picnics and similar outdoor activities. Next to the River Thames, the meadow also serves other functions such as cattle grazing and transportation just like in the past. The stretch of the River Thames that passes through Oxford and forms the meadow’s bounds is called “The Isis.” The meadow, which is owned privately by the Christ Church, also has some nearby sections set aside for sports pitches.
Mottey Meadows, Staffordshire
Located close to Staffordshire’s village of Wheaton Aston, this site is actually a national nature reserve that contains a number of meadows. The meadows are home to more than 240 species of plants such as the snake's-head fritillary, which is extremely rare. Under the management of Natural England and other organizations, this site is also classified as a European Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.