Floodplain Grazing Marshes are particularly important for the number of breeding waders such as Lapwing, Redshank and Snipe, and they also support important populations of wintering Wigeon.
The sites are also important for Eel and Grass Snake and can contain a mosaic of plant communities, including Marsh Marigold and regionally-scarce species such as Pepper Saxifrage and Great Burnet.
Floodplain Grazing Marsh: These wet grasslands are periodically inundated pastures or meadows in river floodplain areas, usually criss-crossed by ditches that maintain high water levels.
Most sites have an important role in flood defence and the combination of damp grasslands, ditches and shallow seasonal pools, supports a range of wildlife especially waders and wildfowl.
The Dearne Valley - notably Wombwell Ings - has the most significant Floodplain Grazing Marsh in the Barnsley area.
Floodplain Grazing Marsh is a national priority habitat.
Lowland Meadow or Neutral Grassland, another national priority habitat, includes seasonally inundated grassland.
There may be little distinction between grassland in Grazing Marsh and wet Neutral Grassland.
Natural England identifies grassland as Floodplain Meadow when it has at least one frequent example of nine wildflowers typical of seasonally inundated grassland, and three occasional wildflowers from the list of 43 wildflowers for neutral grassland.
Grassland that meets these priority habitat criteria is quite scarce.
Floodplain Grazing Marsh is a local priority habitat because of this scarcity, the plants and wildlife it supports - especially breeding and overwintering birds - and the opportunities for its conservation.
Floodplain Grazing Marsh is identified as neutral grassland and/or marshy grassland in Phase 1 habitat surveys.
The National Vegetation Classification identifies the following plant communities for inundated grassland:
MG4 Burnet floodplain meadow
MG5 Knapweed meadow
MG7 Foxtail grassland
MG11 Silverweed pasture.
Floodplain Grazing Marsh is found on alluvial soils in river floodplain areas. It is dependent on periodic inundation and high but variable water levels. In part these are controlled by the use of sluices and sometimes pumps.
They are sustained after winter flooding by a summer hay-cut and consequent grazing, or spring and summer grazing.
Grazing Marsh does not itself have extensive areas of tall fen species like reeds but forms part of the mosaic of river valley habitats which includes water bodies and fen and reed swamp communities.
For more information on Floodplain Grazing Marsh,follow these links: