Over the past eighty years there has been a widespread transformation of floodplains from a naturally functioning landscape to a highly modified one, allowing the expansion of intensive agriculture and urban development to occur within the floodplain. Floodplains naturally support a wide range of habitats including species-rich meadows, wet woodland and fens. While these threatened habitats still remain within floodplains, their extent is much reduced.
In a world of public money for public goods, floodplains have the capability of delivering a broad range of ecosystem goods and services. Many of these goods and services result from the interface between terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and the complex relationships between hydrological, physical, biogeochemical and ecological processes and are therefore not obtainable from other landscapes. It is already accepted that species-rich habitats have a vital role to play in the conservation of our natural and social heritage. However, they may provide a wider range of ecosystem service benefits in floodplains when compared to more intensive land-use types.
This webinar will discuss the benefits delivered by floodplains. Using species-rich floodplain meadows as a case study, we will demonstrate that floodplains can sustain productive agriculture in addition to delivering these benefits. We will also explore the potential benefit gain from expanding species-rich habitats within floodplains.