This Special Feature focuses on lowland fens and flood plains. In this introduction we discuss the most important mire-related terms, present status, threats and conservation and restoration attempts. Floodplains and especially lowland fens are rare and vulnerable ecosystems. They are highly threatened all over the world because of direct conversion to agricultural land and especially the lack of appropriate management and altered catchment hydrology. Finally we present a framework for the conservation and restoration of these ecosystems. This consists of (1) optimising abiotic conditions; (2) safeguarding propagule availability of the target species; (3) creating and maintaining conditions for (re)establishment of these species, and (4) appropriate management to keep the conditions suitable. ?? IAVS; Opulus Press.