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  • Writer's picturePhilip

The River Severn

The River Severn at 220 miles long is the longest river in Great Britain and the one with the most voluminous flow of water. It begins in the Cambrian Mountains in Mid Wales at an altitude of 610 m and officially ends at the Second Severn Crossing. From here it discharges into the Bristol Channel.

The name Severn is thought to derive from a spelling “samarina” meaning “land of summertime fallow.” The name is recorded in the Latinized form Sabrina in the 2nd century.

Seasonal flooding of the meadow land alongside the River Severn renders the fields unsuitable for use at this time. When not flooded they have served many purposes over the centuries.

Current “Summer time fallow” now making way for potatoes or maize. Longer term cropping of grass for grazing or forage production is also undertaken. Alongside all of this fields provide a great place to observe an array of biodiversity, birds, insects and plants.

Far from destroying this, agriculture helps maintain a landscape, as it has changed over the centuries into what it is today.

Like all things, with time comes change. Once land floods certain plant species survive and prosper; conditions are most favourable for these individuals whilst other plant species are at a disadvantage.

An individual species ability to capture first more water and hence take up more nutrient allows it to out-compete its neighbours for light. With an increase in biomass, it is able to reproduce more successfully and in time can become the dominant species.

On many of the flood meadows I visit this is what has happened. The end result, a decrease in biodiversity and value for agricultural production.


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