European Rewilding Network
066

Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project

UK’s largest coastal wetland creation project

Aerial view of the developing intertidal habitat at Wallasea Island taken during September 2018.
Close-up of one of the saline lagoons at Wallasea taken in August 2018.
Developing mudflat created on ex-arable land at Wallasea.

The Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project is probably the largest “beneficial use” scheme in Europe.  The twin aims of the project are to combat the threats from climate change (through carbon sequestration) and coastal flooding, and to boost biodiversity by recreating an ancient wetland landscape of mudflats and saltmarsh, lagoons and pasture. Already popular with nature lovers, it will provide a haven for a diverse array of nationally and internationally important wildlife, including nursery areas for commercially important fish species.

The Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project is in the middle of transforming this island into a magical landscape of marshland, lagoons, ditches and sea. More than 3m tonnes of earth was brought by boat from the tunnels and shafts created by the Crossrail scheme in London.  This allowed the project to raise the land above sea level and place the soil in way that created a new 115ha intertidal area of saltmarsh, islands and mudflats. In addition, Crossrail helped to create saline lagoons, a creek network and grazing marsh.  All of which means two-thirds of the arable farmland has been transformed into wildlife-rich habitat and a great place to visit.

 

Project: Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project
Region: United Kingdom
Habitat types: saltmarsh, mudflats, islands, saline lagoons, coastal grazing marsh
Type of project: Methods and experiences to allow natural numbers and densities of native, wild or rewilded species, Pilot projects focusing on supporting key wildlife species being present in more natural densities, showing their role in the ecosystem, Successful agreements with hunting entities about sustainable hunting and the development of wildlife watching tourism, in order to bring back wildlife in natural numbers, Successful agreements with sea or freshwater fisheries and/or managers about sustainable fishing and the development of sustainable tourism, in order to bring back wildlife in natural numbers, Successful examples of enterprises that are based on economic values of the wild and that contribute to rewilding through generating revenues, business, jobs and income, Successful examples of initiatives that address to reduce human-wildlife conflict, and show tangible benefits / reduced problems for the local people
Aim and vision: The main aims of the project are to create new coastal wetland habitats of high value for wildlife, avoid the flood damage which would occur following any unmanaged breach of the existing seawalls on the island and create an extensive area of accessible coastal land for the quiet enjoyment of nature and open space.
The project is designed to provide valuable coastal habitat both now and in the future as the climate continues to change and sea levels continue to rise. It will also provide a range of other benefits to society, including carbon sequestration, reduction in flood risk, increased human health & well-being through outdoor recreation, as well as providing nursery areas for commercially important fish.
Uniqueness of the project: It is the largest, and arguably the most innovative, coastal wetland recreation project in the UK, and probably the largest ‘beneficial use’ project in Europe. It demonstrates an innovative approach to adapting to climate change, and how nature conservation and industry can work together to benefit the environment.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: Now that the main phase of habitat creation has been completed, we will now be managing the site and monitoring its developing fauna and flora. We will also be working with a Local Authority to promote and interpret the site’s maritime, scientific and natural heritage, including its resting place for Charles Darwin’s ship HMS Beagle.
Results so far: Land Acquisition, collaborations, investment of >£50M GBP, completion of habitat restoration engineering work, acquiring national visibility and recognition and various other ecological outcomes.
Inspirational value: Developing a collaboration between the UK’s largest coastal wetland creation project and the UK’s largest recent infrastructure project. Knowledge of how biodiversity develops in this innovatively-designed coastal wetland, including in its dynamically-managed saline lagoons.
Experience you would like to share: The importance of working with stakeholders, communities and regulators, as well as the technical issues and planning required to develop and implement restoration plans which will be acceptable to, and supported by, the general public.
Experience you would like to gain: Approaches to landscape-scale restoration, developing and selling visions, securing resources and approaches to managing project risk.
Map
Country
UK, England
Start year
2006
Size (ha)
850
Area type
Marine: coastal, Wetlands
Natural process
Flooding, Other
Flagship species
Other
Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project
Aerial view of the developing intertidal habitat at Wallasea Island taken during September 2018.
Close-up of one of the saline lagoons at Wallasea taken in August 2018.
Developing mudflat created on ex-arable land at Wallasea.

The Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project is probably the largest “beneficial use” scheme in Europe.  The twin aims of the project are to combat the threats from climate change (through carbon sequestration) and coastal flooding, and to boost biodiversity by recreating an ancient wetland landscape of mudflats and saltmarsh, lagoons and pasture. Already popular with nature lovers, it will provide a haven for a diverse array of nationally and internationally important wildlife, including nursery areas for commercially important fish species.

The Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project is in the middle of transforming this island into a magical landscape of marshland, lagoons, ditches and sea. More than 3m tonnes of earth was brought by boat from the tunnels and shafts created by the Crossrail scheme in London.  This allowed the project to raise the land above sea level and place the soil in way that created a new 115ha intertidal area of saltmarsh, islands and mudflats. In addition, Crossrail helped to create saline lagoons, a creek network and grazing marsh.  All of which means two-thirds of the arable farmland has been transformed into wildlife-rich habitat and a great place to visit.

 

Map
Country
UK, England
Start year
2006
Size (ha)
850
Area type
Marine: coastal, Wetlands
Natural process
Flooding, Other
Flagship species
Other
Specification
Project: Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project
Region: United Kingdom
Habitat types: saltmarsh, mudflats, islands, saline lagoons, coastal grazing marsh
Description
Type of project: Methods and experiences to allow natural numbers and densities of native, wild or rewilded species, Pilot projects focusing on supporting key wildlife species being present in more natural densities, showing their role in the ecosystem, Successful agreements with hunting entities about sustainable hunting and the development of wildlife watching tourism, in order to bring back wildlife in natural numbers, Successful agreements with sea or freshwater fisheries and/or managers about sustainable fishing and the development of sustainable tourism, in order to bring back wildlife in natural numbers, Successful examples of enterprises that are based on economic values of the wild and that contribute to rewilding through generating revenues, business, jobs and income, Successful examples of initiatives that address to reduce human-wildlife conflict, and show tangible benefits / reduced problems for the local people
Aim and vision: The main aims of the project are to create new coastal wetland habitats of high value for wildlife, avoid the flood damage which would occur following any unmanaged breach of the existing seawalls on the island and create an extensive area of accessible coastal land for the quiet enjoyment of nature and open space.
The project is designed to provide valuable coastal habitat both now and in the future as the climate continues to change and sea levels continue to rise. It will also provide a range of other benefits to society, including carbon sequestration, reduction in flood risk, increased human health & well-being through outdoor recreation, as well as providing nursery areas for commercially important fish.
Uniqueness of the project: It is the largest, and arguably the most innovative, coastal wetland recreation project in the UK, and probably the largest ‘beneficial use’ project in Europe. It demonstrates an innovative approach to adapting to climate change, and how nature conservation and industry can work together to benefit the environment.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: Now that the main phase of habitat creation has been completed, we will now be managing the site and monitoring its developing fauna and flora. We will also be working with a Local Authority to promote and interpret the site’s maritime, scientific and natural heritage, including its resting place for Charles Darwin’s ship HMS Beagle.
Results so far: Land Acquisition, collaborations, investment of >£50M GBP, completion of habitat restoration engineering work, acquiring national visibility and recognition and various other ecological outcomes.
Exchange
Inspirational value: Developing a collaboration between the UK’s largest coastal wetland creation project and the UK’s largest recent infrastructure project. Knowledge of how biodiversity develops in this innovatively-designed coastal wetland, including in its dynamically-managed saline lagoons.
Experience you would like to share: The importance of working with stakeholders, communities and regulators, as well as the technical issues and planning required to develop and implement restoration plans which will be acceptable to, and supported by, the general public.
Experience you would like to gain: Approaches to landscape-scale restoration, developing and selling visions, securing resources and approaches to managing project risk.
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