The Suffolk coast and its estuaries are some of the most important and most visited concentrations of nature conservation sites in the UK. Large areas are owned by conservation bodies (the National Trust, RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust) and together they contribute significantly to the visitor economy. Touching the Tide offers the skills, knowledge and resources to protect these habitats and their inabitants.
The majority of the Suffolk Sandlings' heaths are inland from the Touching the Tide project area, but there are heathlands along the coast; notably Dunwich Heath, Walberswick and Snape Warren. Read more »
The largest and most important reedbeds are found associated with saline lagoons behind shingle banks (eg Benacre and Easton Broads) or where large areas of grazing marsh have been flooded and grazing has ceased (eg Minsmere Westwood marshes). Smaller reedbeds are found scattered either in parts of the grazing marsh which are too wet or awkward to graze or in narrow stands at the edge of the upper estuaries. Larger reedbeds are used by rare reedbed birds including bittern, marsh harrier, bearded tit, Savi's and Cetti's warblers as nesting and/or over-wintering habitat. A mosaic of wet and dry reedbed, open water and scrub margins provides perfect conditions for most of these species and their prey. Read more »
Saltmarsh is a wondrous world of dynamism and beauty. It changes twice a day with the tides which bring in nutrients, but it is also shaped by the seasons, waves and winds. Read more »
The shingle we find on our beaches comes from the erosion of cliffs and from marine deposits of flints. Orford Ness is the largest shingle spit in Europe and is of international importance. Other notable shingle sites are Thorpeness, Shingle Street and the Landguard peninsula. The Knolls, at the mouth of the river Deben are globally unique being the only shingle spit in the world to be formed by an ebb tide. Read more »
There are large areas of coastal and floodplain grazing marsh, particularly along the inland estuaries. This important habitat supports huge numbers of breeding wading birds, particularly redshank and lapwing. In winter, flocks of wildfowl and waders feed and roost on the marshes, particularly at high tide when the adjacent mudflat and saltmarsh is covered with water. The dyke systems within grazing marshes range in water salinity from fresh to brackish and support a range of plant communities. Scarce plants such as whorled water-milfoil and soft hornwort can often be found, particularly where nutrient levels are low and there is a brackish influence. Read more »