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Saltmarsh Restoration Trial in Chichester Harbour Prompts Government Visit


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Pioneering Saltmarsh Restoration Trial in Chichester Harbour Prompts Secretary of State Visit

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An innovative saltmarsh restoration trial in Chichester Harbour has attracted Government interest. Chichester Harbour Conservancy, the Environment Agency and the Solent Seascapes Project, met with Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for the Environment, on Wednesday 2 August to explain more about the project, and view the first shoots of glasswort (a pioneer saltmarsh plant species) colonising the site.

In 2021 a Natural England condition review found that saltmarsh in Chichester Harbour has declined by 58% since 1946. To help halt the decline Chichester Harbour Conservancy is leading a partnership initiative focussed on nature protection and recovery. The saltmarsh restoration trial at West Itchenor, which began in February 2023, has pioneered a technique for using sediment dredged within the harbour. The project used this sediment to raise the height of an area of shoreline with the aim of allowing saltmarsh plant species to colonise. 

Matt Briers, CEO of Chichester Harbour Conservancy:
"Chichester Harbour is one of the most important sites for wildlife in the UK and our saltmarsh is amongst our most precious of habitats.  We were pleased to welcome the Secretary of State to visit our saltmarsh restoration trial site and encouraged by the importance she places on protecting and restoring this habitat."

The Rt HonThérèseCoffey MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
"The Saltmarsh Restoration Trial in Chichester Harbour is an innovative and exciting approach to nature recovery.  Saltmarsh is declining at an alarming rate; it has been inspiring to see this groundbreaking initiative to restore a habitat which is so important in storing carbon and mitigating climate change."

Saltmarsh loss and degradation in Chichester Harbour is partly due to "coastal squeeze", where hard structures and sea defences prevent the natural movement of sediment in the harbour and cause erosion of the saltmarsh. Climate change and sea-level rise pose additional threats.

With the first stages of the saltmarsh restoration trial now complete, the site will be carefully monitored to gauge the success of the technique, to inform future saltmarsh restoration projects.

More about the trial and Chichester Harbour Conservancy's work to protect and restore saltmarsh is available


Notes to Editors:

Alternative images of glasswort shoots and saltmarsh in Chichester Harbour available:

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For any media and communications enquiries contact Nicky Kate L'

About Chichester Harbour Conservancy
Chichester Harbour Conservancy is the statutory authority for Chichester Harbour and manages the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Conservancy focuses on conservation and landscape protection whilst helping people enjoy the area for recreation and leisure purposes. It also aims to increase knowledge and understanding to ensure visitors and the wider public are aware of the importance in protecting Chichester Harbour for future generations.

About Chichester Harbour
Chichester Harbour is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with a unique blend of land, sea and shoreline. The intertidal areas across Chichester Harbour are also designated at national (Site of Special Scientific Interest), European (SPA, SAC) and international level (Ramsar site) in order to protect the diverse and fragile range of habitats.

Contact:Nicky Simmons, Communications Manager

About the Solent Seascape Project 

The Solent Seascape Project is a five year, multi-million-pound partnership project which will restore seagrass, saltmarsh, oysters and seabird nesting habitat to the Solent. Project partners include Blue Marine Foundation, RSPB, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Project Seagrass, Natural England, Environment Agency, Coastal Partners, Isle of Wight Estuaries Project, Chichester Harbour Protection and Recovery of Nature (CHaPRoN) and University of Portsmouth. 

Contact: Louise MacCallum, Solent Project Manager (Blue Marine) 


About Blue Marine Foundation 

Blue Marine Foundationis a UK ocean conservation charity set up in 2010 by some of the team behind the award-winning documentary film ‘The End of the Line'. Blue Marine aims to restore the ocean to health by addressing overfishing, one of the world's biggest environmental problems. The charity is dedicated to creating marine reserves, restoring vital habitats and establishing models of sustainable fishing. Its mission is to see 30 per cent of the world's ocean under effective protection by 2030. 

Contact: Louise MacCallum, Solent Project Manager (Blue Marine) 


About the Endangered Landscapes Programme  

TheEndangered Landscapes Programme(ELP) provides inspiration for a future in which biodiversity and ecosystem processes are restored to Europe's degraded lands, establishing resilient, more self-sustaining ecosystems. The Endangered Landscapes Programme is managed by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative in partnership with Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.  

Contact:Iona Haines, Programme Assistant