What the project includes Edit
Defra's (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs} Wallasea Wetlands Creation Project is creating a 115 hectare wetland including 7 artificial islands, saline lagoons, mudflats, new public footpaths, and 4km of sea wall.
It will be used by birds including Brent geese, Oystercatchers, Grey plovers, Dunlins, Shelducks, Curlews, Avocets and Little Terns. It will also provide a nursery habitat for fish such as bass, herring and mullet.
Recreating ancient wetland Edit
Essex originally had 35,000 hectares of saltmarsh, but enclosure for agriculture and development between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries destroyed much of this habitat. Only 2,000 hectares remain.
Flood defence Edit
Wetlands, including salt marsh and mud flats, also act as buffer zones that absorb wave energy and protect the coast from storm damage and flooding. New flood defences along the northern bank of the island have been built inland of the shoreline and the current, weaker sea walls have been breached.
Project Manager Mark Dixon: "Creating this wetland has been a major feat of engineering. More than 600,000 tonnes of non-polluted navigation dredgings that would otherwise have been dumped at sea have been used to create this habitat.
A project like this is only possible with the support and co-operation of everyone involved. The involvement of Wallasea Farms, Harwich Haven Authority, English Nature, the Environment Agency, the RSPB and the local community has been absolutely invaluable."
Time scale Edit
The project started in 2004 and will be complete by August 2006. It will be subject to intensive independent monitoring until 2011.