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Bewdley Case Study: How is the land used?

The River Severn catchment is mainly rural, with agriculture the main land use.

  • In the Severn Uplands pasture and sheep farming covers approximately a third of the hillsides while dairy farming dominates the valleys.
  • In the Middle Severn section the fertile plains are dominated by arable faming (46%), mainly wheat and barley farming. Other land uses include dairy, poultry and pig farming.
  • In the Severn Vale pasture accounts for 43% and arable farming for 34% of rural land use.

Woodland makes up approximately 10% of the Severn catchment, with the main concentrations at the western edge of the Severn uplands around Dyfnant Forest south of Lake Vyrnwy, the Wyre forest near Bewdley, Clun Forest and Wenlock Edge. The woodland is a mixture of commercial forestry (primarily coniferous), mixed, deciduous and ancient.

Other land uses include wind farms at Carno and Llandinam in the upper catchment. Mining and quarrying have declined in recent years although soft limestone is extracted along the Cotswold escarpment.

Land use and flood risk

The main communities currently at risk of flooding from the Severn are Shrewsbury, Ironbridge, Bridgnorth, Bewdley, Stourport on Severn, Worcester and Tewkesbury. The risk of flooding in these towns is affected by rural land use elsewhere in the catchment and how it is managed. For example, increased run off results wherever vegetation is removed, or when arable fields are left bare. Forests and pasture normally help to reduce flooding.

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