Restoration of saltmarsh vegetation at the Tollesbury managed realignment site in the Blackwater Estuary, Essex, England

  • Published source details Wolters M., Garbutt A., Bekker R.M., Bakker J.P. & Carey P.D. (2008) Restoration of salt-marsh vegetation in relation to site suitability, species pool and dispersal traits. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 904-912


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Facilitate tidal exchange to restore/create brackish/salt marshes from other land uses

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Facilitate tidal exchange to restore/create brackish/salt marshes from other land uses

    A before-and-after, site comparison study in 1995–2003 of three salt marshes in England, UK (Wolters et al. 2008) found that a marsh restored by breaching an embankment around farmland was colonized by salt marsh vegetation, and developed a similar species richness to nearby natural marshes within five years. Plant species colonized gradually: glassworts Salicornia spp. were the first species to establish (within two years), then seablite Suaeda maritima, then long-lived salt marsh species (see original paper for frequency data). From five years after breaching, plant species richness on the restored marsh was within the range of two nearby natural marshes (data reported as a saturation index). After eight years, 11 salt marsh plant species had established. The plant communities on the restored marsh matched recognized salt marsh community types, characterized on higher ground by saltmarsh grass Puccinellia maritima (found in 100% of quadrats) and on lower ground by glassworts (in 55–100% of quadrats, depending on elevation). Methods: In August 1995, a 50-m-wide opening was made in an embankment around agricultural land, allowing the tide to enter twice a day. Plants were allowed to colonize naturally. Annually from 1997–2003, vegetation cover was recorded in 7,500 quadrats (each 1 m2). Quadrats were arranged in three 20 x 125 m transects, perpendicular to the shoreline. Long-term data on plant species in two nearby natural marshes were used for comparison. The restoration site was included in studies (7) and (11).

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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