Tidal waters flowing back and forth on land once claimed by King Canute, will turn three-quarters (1,800 acres) of Wallasea Island in south-east Essex into saltmarsh, creeks and mudflats creating a paradise for wildlife.
The £12 million scheme, called the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project, will be the RSPB’s most ambitious and costly in the UK and could lure several new species, including spoonbills, which have not nested successfully here for more than 400 years.
Kentish plovers, absent for 50 years, and black-winged stilts, which have only bred in Britain three times, are among birds also expected to thrive on the new reserve. Otters, saltwater fish and specialist saltwater plants could also flourish.
Graham Wynne, Chief Executive of the RSPB, said: “Wallasea will become a wonderful coastal wetland full of wildlife in a unique and special landscape. It will be a supermarket for birds, create nursery grounds for fish and be a true wilderness that people can visit, savour and enjoy.
“We will be restoring habitats that were lost more than 400 years ago and preparing the land for sea level rise. This is land that was borrowed from the sea that now the sea is re-claiming. Our project will make a major contribution to efforts to help wildlife adapt to the serious impacts of climate change.”
Wallasea Island, which is eight miles north of Southend-on-Sea, was a wildlife haven 500 years ago, before being reclaimed for farming.
Its saltmarshes - natural sea defences storing water and absorbing the power of the tides – were destroyed and its wildlife disappeared.
The RSPB project will restore the island’s wetlands creating the largest ‘tidal-exchange’ scheme in the UK. Tidal controls built into existing earth sea walls will regulate the flow of seawater on and off the island.
Wallasea is currently farmed by Wallasea Farms Ltd and is being bought from a private trust that has owned the island for 50 years. Work is due to start in two years’ time once planning permission and other consents are won, and funds raised.
Project Manager Mark Dixon said: “We will have a landscape of marshes, islands, lagoons and creeks little more than 20 inches deep at high tide. Wallasea is one island now but was once five separate pieces of land. We will restore these ancient divisions and each new island will have its own tidal control.
“Many birds will starve if we don’t restore Wallasea. Fish are under incredible pressure too, not just because of overfishing but because of the loss of their saltmarsh nurseries as well. Wallasea is only ten miles from the Thames Gateway and once the work is done, it will be a breathing space for those living there now and for their children in the future.”
Wetland restoration began on Wallasea last year when Defra breached sea walls on the 280-acre northern edge of the island. That land is now managed by the RSPB and will lie adjacent to the Society’s new project, increasing by six-fold the area of wetland on Wallasea.
Joan Ruddock, Minister for Climate Change and Biodiversity, said: “Our coastal habitats are internationally important for wildlife but now face the new threat of climate change and faster sea level rise. We need to plan and manage our coast to adapt to this change not only to benefit wildlife but also to make sure people can continue to visit the wild coast to enjoy its dynamic wildlife, fresh air and solitude.”
Paul Woodcock, Anglian Region Director for the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency is pleased to be working with the RSPB as it develops this exciting wetland creation project. Such an initiative will help our estuaries and coastlines adapt to climate change and sea level rise for the benefit of people and wildlife.”
Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s Conservation Director, said: “Our plans for Wallasea reflect the very great difficulties climate change will cause but also the RSPB’s determination to find ways of combating them. We will be providing new sites into which wildlife can move when sea level rise swallows up their existing habitats. We are setting an example for governments to follow. Now it is vital that they do so.”
Cath Harris | alfa
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences