Our work here
South Alde-Ore Estuary - Future for Coastal Wetlands Project
Boyton Marshes is one of the best examples of coastal grazing marsh on the Suffolk Coast. This 70ha site currently sustains a healthy population of lapwings, redshanks and wintering ducks and geese. However, there are several fields on the reserve that are higher and drier, so not used by our key species.
We’ll be using a special tractor-mounted machine called a rotary ditcher to create new wet features like low gutters, which will enable waders to use these fields for breeding for the first time. This extra available habitat will increase the population and provide much needed additional habitat for the key species with the Alde-Ore estuary.
Nearby Hollesley Marshes (85 ha) is currently a fragmented wet grassland with relatively few breeding and migrating waders. There are only two pairs of breeding lapwings, which is not meeting our targets for the site.
The reserve’s field system doesn’t allow us to keep many of the fields wet enough for key bird, flower and invertebrate species, so a change to the management of the site is needed. We plan to create a new 10-15 ha freshwater coastal lagoon system to create better habitat. This ‘scrape’ would have an undulating topography provided by the rotary ditcher, creating the ideal feeding and nesting conditions for a suite of passage and breeding wading birds and terns that currently use the Alde-Ore Estuary.
We plan to manage the marsh habitat by controlling water levels. We aim to lower ground levels to establish the required depth of water, creating new ditches, foot drains, scrapes, islands and pools, as well as installing new internal sluices. This will create a mosaic of habitats which we’ll carefully manage to maintain optimum habitats. We will also cover some of the islands with shingle to provide nesting conditions for tern species such as little, Sandwich and common.
We will maintain 57 ha of coastal grazing marsh at Boyton to suit its breeding redshanks and lapwings, wintering wildfowl, and aquatic plants and invertebrates. Work will include selective winter flooding, grazing with cattle, controlling invasive vegetation and maintaining water levels. We will also create more feeding edges, manage hedges and conduct regular patrols. The marsh will offer a good example of wet grassland management.
We will also maintain 194 ha of saltmarsh for at least 15 pairs of breeding redshanks, as well as important plants such as small cordgrass and invertebrates such as the ground lackey moth.
Finding out more
We will inform our management of the reserve by monitoring all its wildlife – especially breeding waders, lagoon invertebrates, rare moths and plants, and mammals such as brown hare and water vole. We will also map the use of breeding islands by birds, and will monitor lagoon water levels. Our findings should allow us to contribute to research projects elsewhere.
The ambitious project at Hollesley marshes has been generously funded by WREN through their Biodiversity Action Fund.