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Title: Policy and practice in the assessment and management of floodplain meadows in England
Author: McGinlay, James
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2013
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For centuries, most floodplains in lowland England were managed as hay meadows in Spring and Summer to provide feed for livestock and as grazing land over winter. The combination of climatic, hydrological, and soil nutrient conditions, together with the disturbance created by hay cutting and aftermath grazing, led to these meadows being populated by a particular combination of plant species that are now valued and conserved for reasons including their species richness, aesthetic appeal and cultural-historical origins. This research has investigated the meadow assessment practices of stakeholders actively involved in the conservation management of floodplain meadow grasslands in England in order to ascertain what the nature, motivations and meaning of assessment activity are, and to what extent the assessment activity informs management of meadows within a model of responsive management. This was achieved by means of an interdisciplinary approach and a case-study and mixed methodology strategy focussing on flood plain meadow sites in England. The work has highlighted the site-specific nature of the stakeholder networks that manage the meadows and the tensions between stake holder groups' perspectives on the value of such meadows. It has been shown that stakeholder assessment practices draw on a partial view of meadow value and in consequence create partial understandings about the meadows which often do not appear to impact on management decisions. Meadow management decisions in turn were seen to be influenced by a range of factors other than assessment findings from ideas about what constitutes 'traditional management' to practical constraints on the managing farmers. Finally it has been found that tensions between conservation stake holders and managing farmer stake holders over meadow value pose a significant potential threat to meadow conservation by creating strains in the stakeholder networks and socio-economic processes that deliver meadow management.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available