Coastal Retreat

The history of coastlines in north-west Europe has been one of coastal land reclamation for farming over the past several hundred years, such as the Fenlands in Norfolk.  Coastal management reverses such land reclamation by opening the sea walls and permitting salt marshes to re-establish.

Such coastal retreat is said to much cheaper than trying to maintain sea dykes;  salt habitat creation is a major additional reason for such measures. Consequently the main agents for such works have been Natural England, the National Trust and the RSPB (Royal Society of the Protection of Birds).

Tollesbury Wikc Nature Reserve, managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust, credit Philthemancunian

Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve, managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust, credit Philthemancunian wikicommons

One of the first examples of such soft coastal management was by the National Trust at Northey Island in Essex in 1991 (now a Marine Conservation Area), then the 243 ha Tollesbury and Orplands where the sea walls were breached in 1995,  followed in 2002 by the 280 ha Abbott’s Hall Farm, at Great Wigborough also on the Blackwater Estuary by the RSPB. One firm of landscape architects involved in such work has been Maslen Environmental (now part of JBA Consulting), who advised on the 440 ha Alkborough Flats on the south bank of the Humber estuary.

Refs. (accessed 18.10.2015)

Environment Agency Working with Natural Processes to Manage Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk: 2010 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140328084622/http:/cdn.environment-agency.gov.uk/geho0310bsfi-e-e.pdf

Alkborough Flats, http://www.jbaconsulting.com/project/alkborough-flats-managed-realignment-environment-agency

Grant, Alistair Restoration and Creation of Saltmarshes and Other Intertidal Habitats, Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, University of East Anglia http://www.uea.ac.uk/~e130/Saltmarsh.htm