Impact of grazing on saltmarshes study: Report prepared for Natural England

Jonathan Dale, Michael Kennedy, Charley Hill-Butler, Laura Conway

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Abstract

Saltmarshes provide a range of important ecosystem services including physical and feeding habitats for breeding, wintering and migratory birds, carbon storage, water quality regulation, sediment accretion and flood defence. These habitats are highly productive ecosystems and support a range of halophytic plant communities, with vegetation typically managed through agri-environment schemes by livestock grazing (Mason et al., 2019). However, globally, saltmarshes are in decline, with both increases in grazing intensity and grazing abandonment recognised to be amongst the contributing factors. There is, therefore, a need for responsible management of saltmarsh habitats by land managers to halt or reverse the loss of this important habitat. This report provides an assessment of the vegetation at two sites proposed for inclusion into an agri-environment scheme in the form of a Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier Agreement. The first site, the southern section of Egypt Marsh on the Tamar Estuary has historically not been grazed, but the introduction of grazing has been proposed (Figure 1). The second, located on the Tavy Estuary and referred to herein as Tavy River Marsh, is not currently under an agri-environment scheme but is subject to ad-hoc grazing. The Tavy River Marsh site is sub-dived into two areas, North and South, by a small channel draining the surrounding terrestrial hinterland.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Reading
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2023

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