Lowland Meadows

Lowland meadows are species-rich grasslands occurring on soils with a neutral pH, in the lowlands. They are traditionally managed by hay cutting and/or grazing, and usually contain a high number of colourful herb species.

Lowland Meadow

Photo: Richard Cobden/Sussex Wildlife Trust

Why are they important?

  • They are botanically rich including uncommon species such as Green-winged Orchid and Frog Orchid.
  • A diversity of herbs provides nectar for a range of invertebrates including butterflies, bees and moths.
  • Many lowland meadows are ancient habitats with a long history of management.
  • They are important for birds such as Corncrake and Skylark.

Lowland Meadows in Sussex

Sussex’s lowland meadows are predominantly made up of Crested Dog’s-tail and Black Knapweed grassland (National Vegetation Classification MG5). There are just over 1300 hectares in Sussex, predominantly in the High and Low Weald, which represents a significant proportion of the UK resource.

What are the threats?

  • Agricultural improvement including drainage, re-seeding and conversion to arable production.
  • A decline in the perceived agricultural value of species-rich meadows and hay in farming.
  • Lack of appropriate management including overgrazing, resulting in trampling, and neglect, resulting in scrub encroachment.
  • Isolation and fragmentation of sites reduces opportunities for animals and plants to disperse making them more susceptible to extinction.
  • Development activities.

Some associated species

  • Barn Owl Tyto alba
  • Serotine Eptesicus serotinus
  • Chimney Sweeper Odezia atrata
  • Hornet Robberfly Asilus crabroniformis
  • Yellow Rattle Rhinanthus minor
  • Adder’s-tongue Ophioglossum vulgatum

Marbled White

Photo: Laurie Jackson

Links to more information

After Minerals
Floodplain Meadows Partnership
Natural England
The Grasslands Trust
The Grazing Advice Partnership
Weald Meadows Initiative

Sussex Targets

Biodiversity Action Reporting System Website

Download the Lowland Meadows Habitat Action Plan