The past year, more than any other, has shown us how important nature and the coast are for our health and well-being. As a coastal community, many of us have a deep affection for the sea that started in childhood and goes beyond its role in supporting our activities. It seems that there is more to this connection as the benefits of coastal habitats are now increasingly understood to be essential to our way of life. They absorb and bind huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, support flood defence and reduce pollution whilst providing a home for wildlife. CHC is part of a project that will help to support and enhance some of these coastal habitats so that they in turn are able to continue supporting and enhancing our lives.
With increased understanding of the benefits of coastal habitats we now know more about the impact of their loss. Not only do we lose the habitat’s potential to support us but also the benefit they have already provided, for example a dying saltmarsh releases stored carbon and nutrients back into the environment.
In the Medina, we are fortunate to have some small areas of saltmarsh that are essential to the estuary and the wildlife, but this is increasingly under threat. Through annual monitoring we have seen a reduction in the area of saltmarsh. The rate of loss varies each year depending on different factors but each time there is significant change the marsh becomes weaker and more difficult to stabilise and restore. To do something about this, CHC is working with the Estuaries Project, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency and Natural England on a project to put measures in place that will stabilise the existing marsh and help it to re-establish in parts of the estuary.
The first phase of the saltmarsh restoration project is to work out effective and practical options for each area of saltmarsh and start to put measures in place to help prevent any further loss. A report on the options will be completed by late spring and it is hoped that work can begin on small scale practical measures later this year. There will also be opportunities for larger scale, longer-term management that could include the beneficial use of dredged material and identifying additional areas for restoration. These will require additional funding and further discussion but could help to support the saltmarsh and all the benefits it provides for many years to come.
Further updates on the project will be provided later this year, but for more information about saltmarsh and habitat work in the Medina, please visit the CHC website.