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Wetlands for Nature and People

Last changes: 2022-08-01


Floodplain meadows

Ragged-Robin. Photo: Agnese Priede.
Floodplain meadows are seasonally flooded areas along rivers. Floods occur mostly in springtime, rarer – in other seasons with high precipitation. Floodplains temporary store the excessive waters and gradually release them, thus mitigating the flooding risk downstream. Floodplains ‘catch’ the nutrients dissolved in waters and store them in the rich alluvial soils, thus playing a role of a filter. Nowadays few natural floodplains are left in Latvia. Over the last century vast floodplain areas were modified for agricultural purposes, the small streams where straightened and floodplain meadows were criss-crossed by drainage ditches.
Many plant and animal species have adapted to the seasonality of floodplain and its rich alluvial soils. In floodplain meadows numerous rare plant species can be found, while the shallow waters overrunning the meadows in spring are suitable environment for spawning pikes. Geese and wild ducks rest and feed in the flooded meadows during the long migration journeys. Floodplain meadows are the only nesting habitat of the rare, threatened Great Snipe. Also the threatened Corncrake is nesting in such grasslands, and it is excellent feeding habitat for the rare Lesser Spotted Eagle. Therefore the floodplain meadows are acknowledged as a protected habitat in the entire European Union.
In Latvia, large proportion of the floodplain meadows is included in the category of biologically valuable grasslands. The landowners can receive subsidiary payments for nature friendly management if regularly mowing the grass or grazing animals there.
Natural floodplain – meandering river and seasonally flooded meadows on its banks. Photo: Agnese Priede.
Semi-natural floodplain meadow is multi-coloured. Dozens of brightly blooming plant species and their fertilizers - insect species - dwell here. Photo: Agnese Priede. banneris banneris banneris

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