Conserving socio-ecological landscapes: An analysis of traditional and responsive management practices for floodplain meadows in England

James McGinlay, David J. G. Gowing, Jessica Budds

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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Contemporary practice in the conservation of socio-ecological landscapes draws on both a model of responsive management, and also on ideas about historic management. This study considered what evidence might exist for the exercise of these approaches to management in the conservation of floodplain meadows in England, in order to inform understanding and knowledge of conservation management and assessment practice.

Evidence for a model of responsive management was limited, with managing stakeholders often alternating between this model and an alternative approach, called here the ‘traditional management approach’, based on ideas, narratives and prescriptions of long-established land management practices. Limited monitoring and assessment appeared to undermine the former model, whilst uncertainty over past long-standing management practices undermined the latter. As a result of the relative power of conservation actors over farmers delivering site management, and their framings of meadows as ‘natural’ spaces, management tended to oscillate between aspects of these two approaches in a sometimes inconsistent manner.

Conservation managers should consider the past motivating drivers and management practices that created the landscapes they wish to conserve, and bear in mind that these are necessarily implicated in aspects of the contemporary landscape value that they wish to maintain. They should ensure that assessment activity captures a broad range of indicators of site value and condition, not only biological composition, and also record data on site management operations in order to ensure management effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234–241
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Early online date1 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Conservation models
  • Traditional
  • Responsive
  • Adaptive
  • Historical management
  • Assessment
  • Stakeholders
  • Conservation

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