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Chapter Meadows

Chapter Meadows is a medieval floodplain meadow used for hay crops and cattle grazing - a type of traditional land management that is still used at Chapter Meadows today. In 1998, the Duckworth Worcestershire Trust purchased the land on behalf of the people of Worcester and continues to restore and safeguard the land’s wildlife, landscape and historical importance.


Floodplain meadows were once a popular characteristic of the English landscape and while they are a much rarer sight these days, they remain an important habitat. This land was once essential to communities and highly sought after due to its naturally high fertility through flooding, especially before artificial fertilisers were introduced. Due to the consistent traditional agricultural management of the land over centuries, a rich wildlife haven remains today forming part of the wildlife corridor through the centre of Worcester city.

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While floods are part of the life cycle of the floodplain meadow, and the most common and widespread of all weather-related natural disasters, the UK faces growing risks of flooding due to decreasing green spaces and poor river management. However, there are three key rewilding processes proposed to reduce flood risk: 

 

  1. Land management: From agricultural farming to urban planning, every stretch of land contributes to flooding risk. Good land practices are essential to reducing flood risk. For example, trees reduce flooding from the leaves to the roots whereas hard surfaces such as concrete and tarmac prevent water from filtering into the soil.

  2. Restoration of rivers: Many rivers have been straightened and dredged to the benefit of society to improve navigation and generate power but has greatly increased river flow as a result. Restoring rivers to their natural meandering course can reduce flood risk and improve water quality.

  3. Reintroducing beavers: Beavers, nicknamed ‘ecological engineers’, became extinct in the UK in the 16th century but are now identified as a ‘keystone species’ - species that have the largest impact on ecosystems and support biodiversity. There are increasing calls to reintroduce them across the UK - they have already returned to London, Devon and Scotland!

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