WALLASEA ISLAND WILD COAST PROJECT
Conservation for the 21st century, on a scale never before attempted in the UK!
Four hundred years ago, the Essex coast was a wild and stunning place, a haven for wildlife and a source of livelihood for local communities. Sadly, today, less than one tenth of this wild coast remains.
Past land claim for agriculture and, now, accelerating coastal erosion with rising sea levels have seen the area of intertidal salt marsh on this coast reduced by over 91% in these past 400 years. A truly staggering figure.
Prior to being enclosed by the current sea walls, Wallasea 'Island' was made up of five separate saltmarsh islands - each with dwellings and managed as separate grazing enterprises. These areas of saltmarsh were progressively enclosed by sea defences, eventually developing the current island shape.
Some small-scale arable areas were present periodically but the area was largely managed with sheep as Essex coastal grazing marsh until the drainage/conversion to arable took place from the 1930s.
The aim of this project is to combat the threats from climate change and coastal flooding by recreating the ancient wetland landscape of mudflats and saltmarsh, lagoons and pasture. It will also help to compensate for the loss of such tidal habitats elsewhere in England. Once completed, this will provide a haven for a wonderful array of nationally and internationally important wildlife and an amazing place for the local community, and those from further afield.
Over the coming years, the scheme will create a varied wetland landscape with more than nine miles (15 km) of new and improved access routes, and eventually a range of visitor facilities. (Source RSPB)