The natural regeneration of salt marsh on formerly reclaimed land

  • Published source details Garbutt A. & Wolters M. (2008) The natural regeneration of salt marsh on formerly reclaimed land. Applied Vegetation Science, 11, 335-344.


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 replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2004 of eight salt marshes in England, UK (Garbutt & Wolters 2008) reported that restored marshes (deliberately exposed to tidal influx) contained different vegetation communities to natural marshes, typically with lower species richness and taller vegetation. Although all restored sites contained salt marsh vegetation after 2–13 years, the specific community type differed from natural marshes in four of four comparisons. Further, vegetation communities in restored marshes were ≤44% similar to those in natural marshes (8% for a 2-year-old marsh; 35–44% for 9–13-year-old marshes). Four of 17 recorded species had significantly different cover in restored and natural marshes, including sea purslane Atriplex portulacoides (restored: 2%; natural: 30%) and common cordgrass Spartina anglica (restored: 21%; natural: 3%). Species with statistically similar cover in restored and natural marshes included saltmarsh grass Puccinellia maritima (restored 47%; natural: 33%) and glasswort Salicornia europaea (restored: 13%; natural: 5%). In two of four comparisons, restored marshes had significantly lower species richness than restored marshes (restored: 2–3 species/2 m2; natural: 8–10 species/2 m2; other comparisons no significant difference) and significantly taller vegetation than natural marshes (restored: 20–44 cm; natural: 9–22 cm; other comparisons mixed results). Methods: In July 2004, vegetation was surveyed in four pairs of adjacent restored and natural salt marshes. The restored marshes were former farmland, where embankments had been breached 2–13 years previously to restore tidal exchange. Plant/algal species and cover were recorded at a fixed elevation in five 2-m2 quadrats/marsh. This study included the restoration sites studied in (1) and (8). All sites in this study were included in (11).

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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