Northey Island is a nature reserve owned and manged by The National Trust and located within the Blackwater Estuary in Essex. It is designated as a nationally and internationally important place for nature conservation. Part of the reason for its
environmental importance is that Northey Island is surrounded by saltmarsh; a truly special coastal habitat that is recognised as being a ‘Priority Habitat’ under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Saltmarsh is a provider of vital ecosystem services, such as
carbon sequestration and natural flood management and provides essential resource for fish and wildlife.
The Northey Island Habitat Creation project involved implementing a range of civil engineering works to improve and manage existing saltmarsh habitats and to create new saltmarsh and freshwater habitats, as well as, constructing a visitor access path with a new bird hide and a separate estuary viewing area for public enjoyment. A programme of engagement with the people who live, work, and visit the area has been (and will continue to be) undertaken to help improve awareness of natural issues, appreciation of the local ecology and the ecosystem services the key habitats provide.
In summary, this project mitigates the impacts of climate change through habitat enhancement to strengthen, diversify and improve the saltmarshes and freshwater habitats on Northey Island for the next century.
Three Winning Facts:
- Adaptation to coastal habitat loss caused by rising sea levels and climate change, with management focus on long term sustainability and providing space to accommodate future natural evolution.
- Restoration and creation of saltmarsh habitat by re-using otherwise waste materials (sediment) from local maintenance dredging activities and undertaking planned ‘managed realignment’ of existing flood embankments.
- Translocation of a colony of 16 water voles to a purpose-built freshwater habitat as pro-active mitigation of potential impacts.