Four hundred years ago, the Essex coast was a wild and stunning
place, a haven for wildlife and a source of livelihood for local
communities. Sadly, today, less than one tenth of this wild coast
remains. Past land claim for agriculture and, now, accelerating
coastal erosion with rising sea levels have seen the area of
intertidal salt marsh on this coast reduced by over 91% in these
past 400 years. A truly staggering figure.
Prior to being enclosed by the current sea walls, Wallasea 'Island'
was made up of five separate saltmarsh islands - each with dwellings
and managed as separate grazing enterprises. These areas of saltmarsh were progressively enclosed by sea defences, eventually
developing the current island shape. Some small-scale arable areas
were present periodically but the area was largely managed with
sheep as Essex coastal grazing marsh until the drainage/conversion
to arable took place from the 1930s.
The aim of this project is to combat the threats from climate change
and coastal flooding by recreating the ancient wetland landscape of
mudflats and saltmarsh, lagoons and pasture. It will also help to
compensate for the loss of such tidal habitats elsewhere in England.
Once completed, this will provide a haven for a wonderful array of
nationally and internationally important wildlife and an amazing
place for the local community, and those from further afield. Over the coming years, the scheme will create a varied wetland
landscape with more than nine miles (15 km) of new and improved
access routes, and eventually a range of visitor facilities.
Artist impression of Wallasea Island in 2019
Click on the image to see large scale
Some useful links relating to Wallasea Island:
RSPB Community Blog May 2011 Newsletter Flickr Photostream
THIS NEW SECTION OF LATEST PICTURES FROM THE PROJECT IS STILL IN DEVELOPMENT AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE