January, 2012

Wallasea Island Wild Coast project

Wallasea Island Wild Coast project
Conservation for the 21st century, on a scale never before attempted in the UK!

Wallasea Island Wild Coast project

  • Euro-Wallasea - ecosystem services under the spotlight

    Our Wild Coast Project has recently been one of 5 case studies in an international report analysing the cost benefits of large projects with high biodiversity relevance, comparing traditional engineered approaches with ecosystem-based approaches.
    The study financed by the European Commission, has been carried out by the Ecologic Institute, Berlin in co-operation with the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), Oxford University Centre for the Environment and places these projects in a position to potentially contribute to a range of EU, national and regional policies within the area of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Countries analysed included statements that show their acknowledgment of the inevitability of climate change.
    In response to growing climate change pressures, ecosystem-based approaches such as ours have emerged as a promising strategy to increase the resilience of ecosystems and support sustainable livelihoods. These creative approaches address the crucial links between climate change, biodiversity and sustainable resource management and thus provide multiple benefits.
    Highlighting the multiple benefits provided by ecosystem-based approaches (as compared to traditional engineered solutions) and providing evidence on their cost-effectiveness can boost the uptake of such approaches. In the case of the Wallasea Island Project, an important benefit of using ecosystem-based approaches was that the project could draw on waste material produced in urban transport excavations that would otherwise have to be transported and disposed of in another way, possibly incurring greater costs.
    The main benefit provided by the vast majority of ecosystem-based projects is the potential to mitigate climate change by increased carbon sequestration. Some of the investigated ecosystem-based projects aim at regulating flood events by providing additional retention areas along rivers and coasts. In general, ecosystem-based projects protect the local ecosystem and often lead to an increase in biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. Landscape amenities were reported to have lead to a better quality of space and to an upward revaluation of the neighborhood due to the aesthetic value of protected wetlands.
    Projects using ecosystem-based- approaches also provide employment opportunities either directly (through management, administration and construction) or indirectly through jobs that are being created in tourism and landscape management. In addition to the above findings, this study has produced lessons and recommendations for implementing ecosystem-based approaches in Europe and for integrating such approaches in policies and strategies relevant for climate change at different spatial levels as well as for supporting the EU 2020 Biodiversity Policy and work on the planned EU Green Infrastructure Strategy.

    The report is available for download at http://ecologic.eu/files/attachments/Projects/2345_eba_ebm_cc_finalreport_23nov2011.pdf

  • Wallasea Events 2012

    As I look out of my office window, across the river to Burnham-on-Crouch, it looks like a Spring day - sun shining, grass green and a male blackbird rather hopefully chasing a female  around the farmyard. Yes, the sap is rising unseasonable early and signs of a new season are all around us!
    With this hope of brighter days ahead come plans for the year's event season and piles of booking forms for marquees and portaloos.  2012 will be an exciting year for Essex , with the Olympics on our doorstep and the world's TV and sporting eyes on the area. But here on Wallasea Island, which is only an hour from Stratford's olympic arena, we could be a million miles away and will have enough excitement of our own .
    This year, at long last, visitors will finally see signs of construction of Europe's largest inter-tidal habitat creation project.  Contractors BAM Nutall will return in the spring to continue the erection of the unloading facility for Crossrail's material which is expected to arrive by ship from July.
    To celebrate and showcase this activity, we have planned a calendar of events to entertain all sorts of visitors. In March, we will hold our first 'Wallathon'; inviting people to come along, with families and friends, to walk, run or cycle round the 8 mile bounds of our site - while they still can.  These bounds will be broken in 6 places in years to come, with the flowing tides making much of it  marshland and the new seawall paths will not circumnavigate the island.
    One event that we hope will become an annual fixture though, is our Wild Coast Paddle. last year 75 kayakers paddled right around the island, and we hope even more will join us in June this year. In July, we will have an official launch event with a variety of key stakeholders and friends of the project which will no doubt begin a long relationship with TV cameras and the media at large.
    Our now well established Wild Coast Weekend will be our grand finale for the summer. Brought forward to mid August this year, in the hope of catching the family holidaymakers and good weather. It will include all the favourites such as Woodford's hog roast and George's Wallasea Wench ale plus many new attractions still to be unveiled.  Watch this space for regular updates as the season progresses.
    If you would like to check out the events in more detail they are all on our events page.

  • Birds-Eye View - the Wallasea Webcam

    If you are looking out the window at the wind and rain and want to know what is happening on Wallasea Island, or you are separated from us by land or sea ( hello Burnham and Banbridge!), there is a nice dry, comfortable way to see the what is happening on the island.
    Regular visitors may have noticed our webcam mast, standing tall about half way ( 1 mile) along the public footpath on the Northern side of the island.This was erected for the original 'Wallasea Wetlands' project a few years ago, when Defra created 115ha of new saltmarsh which RSPB have since managed for them. It originally showed the slowly developing saltmarsh stretching west and east - which lets face it,while interesting to a specialist audience,  is not dynamic footage!
    Recently the camera has been under repair,due to the elements on the Wild Coast being at times not very friendly to small turbines that power the camera.  Now that it is once again fully functional, it is perfectly placed to show the whole island as we turn back the years and recreate the saltmarsh islands of old.
    Live images are now available from this camera, thanks to the work of Carnyx TV. The webpages show images in 7 different directions and also show the material handling area and berm upon which the conveyor belt will run from the new jetty. So as construction continues this Spring, and when ships eventually commence delivery of Crossrail material from July, armchair viewers may explore the island and watch progress from the warmth of their own laptops! There is also animations linked from this page, showing a speeded up footage of the construction done last autumn and another of the tide ebbing and flowing ( for those who think the tide always seem to be out!)
    To see the images click on http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/casework/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-235089 and then follow the 'useful ink' to the webcam on the bottom right hand side.
    Once you have explored this page the time lapse animations may be found on the top right hand corner of this page. Hope this will encourage you to come and see for yourselves once the rain stops...