Written by James Hamilton/Birding247
This week, the UK’s Environment Agency will start work on an exciting new project to restore an inter-tidal habitat on land alongside a South Devon estuary.
South Efford Marsh, at Aveton Gifford, was reclaimed from the Avon estuary in the late 18th century. It was temporarily reconnected with the estuary when a hole, made by a wartime bomb, allowed the tide to flow in and out.
Apart from this thirteen year period, the marsh has remained separate from the estuary ever since.
Now, as part of the Environment Agencies ‘Regional Habitat Creation Programme‘, the Environment Agency will restore the link. The newly created inter-tidal habitat will benefit both wildlife and people.
Mike Williams, Technical Specialist at the Environment Agency, said: ‘We are working with Devon Wildlife Trust and the local community to manage the site in the long term. Public access will be encouraged and we hope to be able to create opportunities for schools and colleges to learn more about saltmarsh and estuaries. We will monitor the changes that take place over coming years.’ The Environment Agency is using a new design of tide gate which will carefully control water levels in the lowest-lying parts of the marsh.
The gate will close automatically to prevent increased flood risk to properties around the marsh. Water will drain out again as the tide falls.
The Environment Agency is also creating shallow freshwater pools higher up the marsh to improve the habitat for waders, ducks and other birds. Which will in turn encourage birders to the area.
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