Success for Deben saltmarsh restoration

The Deben Estuary Partnership (DEP) is pleased to announce the completion of an innovative and creative saltmarsh restoration project of 25 hectares at Falkenham marshes, just north of Felixstowe Ferry on the Deben estuary.  Saltmarsh is under pressure all over the east coast, as sea levels rise and the marsh is “squeezed” back against old fixed coast defences. Saltmarsh is an important habitat in its own right, but it also helps to protect the sea walls by absorbing the energy of the waves, so this insidious on-going loss matters to everyone near the coast.

On this site, however, the biggest issue has been a large land drainage outflow pipe which has resulted in the area being eroded from the seawall side as well as from the front.

Simon Read, Project Lead and Designer described how the work, all done by hand, “has attenuated the flow through the creeks reducing the erosion using numerous soft engineering structures of timber, brushwood, straw bales, coir and a great deal of sweat!” 

Now that water is being slowed down, rather than ripping through the marsh, 15cm of new sediment has already accumulated in the first few days in some places, and the aim is to allow all the channels to gradually re-fill with mud naturally.  By the time the dams have rotted away the restored marsh should once again be self-sustaining for the medium term. The original source of the problem, the drainage pipe, will be addressed in the meantime by the Internal Drainage Board (IDB)

Cllr Christine Block, Chair of the DEP commended “not only the support of funders but all the people especially Kieran (Project Manager), Simon (Project Leader and designer) and Allden Owles and Rob Mortley - who have worked for long hours over 3 months in all kinds of weather to deliver a project that breaks new ground and takes a serious, carefully conceived approach to the regeneration of saltmarsh on the Deben”.  

Advised by Trazar Astley-Reid, Estuaries Officer at the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB, and working in conjunction with other partners including the Environment Agency and Natural England, this restoration project is a great example of local partners and stakeholders working together. The work was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the AONB’s Touching the Tide project, along with Suffolk County Council and the (IDB).

Bill Jenman, Touching the Tide Project Manager, said “This is a fabulous project.  It just shows what can be done by a committed group like the DEP, which can call on local knowledge and try new ways of addressing old problems.”

Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Chairman Cllr David Wood said: “The AONB is delighted that the Deben Estuary Partnership has undertaken the Falkenham saltmarsh restoration project, funded by many partners and with the help of AONB volunteers.  The work has enhanced the landscape of the Deben and ensured this nationally valuable habitat is there for future generations’.

Keiran O’Mahony, the saltmarsh restoration Project Manager is keen to ensure the value of saltmarsh is not underestimated: “Whether serving as a first-line of coastal defence on low-lying estuaries, or the character it contributes to the estuaries dotted along the Suffolk coast, it is an essential part of coastal landscapes”.


By Helen Taylor on December 19th, 2013

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