The National Vegetation Classification (NVC) identifies and describes different types of plant communities in Britain. It is a working tool that provides a framework to support land management, conservation and monitoring. Vegetation systems are complex and the classification cannot be comprehensive. However, as more data and information becomes available it can be refined and developed.
The grassland community known as MG4 grassland is found on seasonally flooded land that has traditionally been cut for hay. With improvements to grassland productivity and to river drainage this community is now very restricted.
The Lugg Meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) has been notified for its species-rich MG4 community however, when assessed against the common standards monitoring devised by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) for this grassland type the site consistently underperforms.
The objectives of this study were:
- To secure the analysis of vegetation data from the Lugg Meadows SSSI collected systematically by annual quadrat surveys between 2006 and 2009.
- To attempt to identify any temporal changes indicating success or failure of the current site management regime.
- To identify the possible existence, identity and relative influence of other variables driving community dynamics, as distinct from site management.
- To attempt to identify that the vegetation may represent a local or regional sub-type of the recognised suite of alluvial grassland communities.
The findings will be used to maintain and enhance the conservation value of Lugg Meadow. They are being published so that they can contribute to the wider ongoing re-assessment of the vegetation of floodplain grasslands.