The Domesday book recorded the floodplain meadows of the River Great Ouse as ten times more valuable than arable land. But these important meadows have declined by around 97% in the last 50 years. Patrick Doody and Martin Baker explore the history and wildlife of the Great Ouse valley floodplain meadows and provide a detailed account of the losses this habitat has suffered.
The River Great Ouse is approximately 230km long and runs from Northamptonshire to The Wash in a roughly northeasterly direction. In the upper catchment, although a highly regulated waterway, it largely follows its original course until it reaches Earith. There, a sluice controls excess river flows, diverting them on to the Ouse Washes, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), via the Old Bedford River.