Saltmarsh is a vital habitat that has so many hidden benefits. Its creeks and channels provide refuge and a feeding ground for baby fish resting up from fast flowing water in the main estuary. The mud settling out from the tidal waters gets stored within the saltmarsh and mudflats, acting as a carbon sink, that is, taking carbon out of the atmosphere. In the December 2013 storm surges, the saltmarsh within Suffolk's estuaries and along its coast removed some of the tremendous wave energy generated. This protected the sea walls behind from being breached in some places.
Simon Read is a Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University who also happens to live on a seagoing barge on the River Deben. Through having a way of life afloat, he has come to understand the increasing volatility of coastal and estuarine systems, and sensitivity to their well-being, and the need for well-integrated management solutions. Simon now works within his own community to help foster an understanding of that coastal and estuarine change.
Simon's understanding and expertise was to Touching the Tide's advantage. He designed innovative, low-tech structures or bunds to slow the loss of saltmarsh at Falkenham near Felixstowe Ferry. Working with the Deben Estuary Partnership supported by the Suffolk Coast & Heaths' Estuary Officer, Trazar Astley-Reid, as well as Suffolk County Council and the Internal Drainage Board. 22 hectares of degraded saltmarsh are now being restored. These structures reduce erosion by buffering wave energy, and also trap sediment which is critical in allowing saltmarsh to keep up with sea level rise. This in turn allows the saltmarsh to drain. Remember saltmarshes don't love salt, they only tolerate it! The silt traps have already accumulated lots of new mud.
We'll be doing more on other sites in future.
Trazar Astley-Reid, SC&H AONB Estuaries Officer