Intertidal mudflat and saltmarsh conservation and sustainable use in the UK: A review

Foster, Natalie; Hudson, Malcolm D.; Bray, Simon and Nicholls, Robert J. (2013). Intertidal mudflat and saltmarsh conservation and sustainable use in the UK: A review. Journal of Environmental Management, 126 pp. 96–104.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.04.015

Abstract

The adoption of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in Ramsar, Iran in 1971 committed the UK to conserve and sustainably use intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes for the benefit of present and future generations. Through consideration of their importance and value, current status, the characteristics, causes and consequences of their loss, and the associated responses to loss, this paper reviews the UK progress towards the conservation and sustainable use of intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes. Uncertainties in their current status and trends make it difficult to assess the overall net change in extent across the UK. However, it is apparent that losses due to erosion continue to exceed gains from intertidal mudflat and saltmarsh reparation (IMSR) schemes in south-east and southern England. IMSR schemes in the UK have been generally limited to relatively small-scale trials in comparison to elsewhere in Europe and in the USA. No research to date has unequivocally identified the causes of erosion. Regardless of the cause, the loss of intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes has adverse impacts on the provision of ecosystem services upon which humans and other species depend. The evidence presented in this paper suggests that alongside further science-based research, there is a need to develop a decision-making process capable of accommodating complexity, uncertainty and multiple diverse perspectives, through which more informed, timely decisions and more effective, concerted actions to conserve and sustainably use intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes can be taken.

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