Saltmash Saunter.... Annery Kiln. Coastwise members were given an expert overview of saltmarsh development projects by Chantal Brown of the Biosphere team, using the Weare Gifford sites as an example. They were jointed by Sophia from the Biosphere and Joe from the AONB.
The salt marsh projects are triggered by sea level rise and incursion. A model funded by the the Environment Agency has been developed by the Biosphere team to identify areas that are likely to flood, and where farmers might be prepared to support salt marsh development.
Salt marshes are regarded as providing important biodiversity in that although there are fewer species than freshwater marshes, they are more specialised and less common. In addition, they sequester considerably more carbon in their early years, and also mitigate the erosion effects of wave action.
Estimates of loss are approx. 100Ha of saltmarsh and 450Ha of mudflats, so replacement is important.
In addition to the Annery Kiln sites, there is a 45Ha site at Pillmouth on the Torridge funded by Natural England.
Persuading farmers to support this process is not easy, although some compensation funding may be available and a difficult long-term economic decision is required.
The saltmarsh may need preparation in terms of weed removal and cutting, and then small light cows can be grazed, with sheep in winter, spring and autumn when the ground will be wetter. In order to develop the Annery Kiln site, a variety of approaches can be used; a breach, removal of the river/tidal wall or building a sluice for controlled inundation.
Overall, a very interesting overview of a valuable environmental initiative.

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