Research, policy and practice for the conservation and sustainable use of intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes in the Solent from 1800 to 2016

Foster, Natalie; Hudson, Malcolm D.; Bray, Simon and Nicholls, Robert J. (2014). Research, policy and practice for the conservation and sustainable use of intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes in the Solent from 1800 to 2016. Environmental Science & Policy, 38 pp. 59–71.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2013.10.013

Abstract

Improvements in both knowledge and actions are required to realize the conservation and sustainable use of intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes in the UK, specifically in terms of decision-making. The research presented in this paper constructed a timeline of events pertaining to the conservation and sustainable use of intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes in the Solent from the perspective of those involved, in order to establish what is actually happening, why, how, and by who. The evidence demonstrates an abundance of research and consultation for legislation and policy development purposes, with a relative lack of practice to actively conserve and sustainably use intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes. The majority of the events identified in this study indirectly influenced the conservation and sustainable use of intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes, and were primarily concerned with some other purpose, such as coastal flooding and erosion risk management, and dock development. Research, legislation and policy, and practice are interconnected in a complex web, with changes in one domain being reflected in another. Yet despite the significant investment in research and consultation processes by many people over numerous years, no clear end point appears to have been reached in terms of realizing intertidal mudflat and saltmarsh conservation and sustainable use. Based on the findings of this study, it is imperative that further in-depth studies be undertaken in order to identify and evaluate changes to improve the decision-making process through which more informed, timely decisions and more effective, concerted actions to conserve and sustainably use intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes can be taken. The concepts and methods applied in this study are transferable to other complex decision-making situations in the UK and elsewhere.

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