Lowland Neutral grasslands

Lowland Meadows

What are they?
Species rich/wildflower grasslands with a near neutral soil pH (around pH 7), usually occurring below 250m in altitude. They include most forms of un-improved neutral grassland and can be differentiated into two major types:

  • Grasslands on well drained soils.
  • Wet grasslands which are often low lying and with poor drainage, are periodically inundated with water or permanently moist

How they are traditionally managed
Neutral grasslands are characterised by low nutrient inputs and are traditionally managed by low intensity grazing or summer hay cut followed by aftermath grazing.


Distribution in Bedfordshire
The majority of noteworthy lowland neutral grasslands can be found north and east of Luton, and in the Ouse valley west of Bedford.

Distribution in Cambridgeshire
The majority of noteworthy lowland neutral grasslands in the county surround Huntingdon, mainly to the South and East of the town. Other patches occur to the north of Huntingdon across to Ely and south of Cambridge.


Species associated with them
The different types of neutral grassland are characterized by having different plant communities, although there may be a certain amount of overlap in species. This difference is, to a much lesser extent, further divided into whether the grassland is cut or grazed or a combination of both as some species thrive under one practice but not under the other. Because of the differences in dominant plant species, they also tend to have different animals associated with them as well.

Just by spending a few minutes looking at your grassland, you will notice that it is composed of grasses and herbs of different shapes, sizes and colours. The presence of these species will give you an indication of the type of grassland you have.


Grassland on well-drained soil

  • Flora associations

They contain a variety of native grasses and other flowering plants including plantains, buttercups, clovers, dandelions, nettles, scabious, hawkbits, selfheal, black knapweed, ox-eye daisies, yellow-rattle.

These grasslands are also associated with some scarce and declining plants, such as greater burnet, meadow saxifrage, adder’s tongue fern and green-winged orchid.

If you would like to see pictures of the species listed above, please click on any species which is underlined to view a picture. Or click on ‘Publications and Information’ at the top of this page and choose Plant Identification.

They also support many species of fungi including the waxcaps.

  • Fauna associations

Examples are marbled white butterfly, six-spot burnet moth, meadow ants, barn owl, skylark, lapwing, grey partridge, meadow pipit, slow worm and lizard.

Wet grasslands

  • Flora associations

Sedges and rushes are characteristic of damp areas and are common on wet meadows. A variety of herbs are present such as cuckooflower, creeping buttercup, ragged robin and bugle.

  • Fauna associations

Damselflies (e.g. beautiful demoiselles), dragonflies, curlew, redshank, common frog, common toad and grass snake.


Examples available to visit

Bedfordshire
Dropshort Marsh SSSI near Toddington. This is a wet meadow example.

Fancott Woods and Meadows SSSI near Fancott. This is an example of grassland on well-drained soils.

Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire Chettisham Meadow near Chettisham.

Soham Meadow near Soham.


For more information
View our lowland meadow leaflet
View lowland Meadow Biodiversity Action Plan for Bedfordshire


Help available
If you think that you may have some of the plant species listed above in your grassland then you could receive a free site visit from a Wildlife Sites Officer.  Or if you would like more information about lowland neutral grasslands, please contact: Bedfordshire – Laura Downton Email.
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Tel. 01234 364213  Cambridgeshire – Sarah Rodger Email.
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Tel. 01954 713500

There might be some opportunities for getting funding

Chloe Granger

Admin at Cut & Chew
The admin of the Cut and Chew website, and activist for improving the UK grazing landscape.

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