The decline of the Great Ouse valley floodplain meadows
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.