It was good to read recently about the creation of Europe’s largest man-made nature reserve here in the UK. Wallasea Island Wild Coast project is in Essex and has, so far, used 3 million tonnes of material excavated from the London Crossrail development to transform farmland into coastal marshland, back to what it was 400 years ago.
The first stage of this 20 year RSPB project was completed a couple of weeks ago when walls were breached to allow the sea to flow into the marshland. Eventually, by 2025, the RSPB aims to create many hectares of mudflats, salt marsh and shallow saline lagoons and to incorporate eight miles of coastal walks and cycle tracks to enable people to get closer to the wildlife that will colonise the area.
This project will show for the first time on a large scale how to future proof low lying coastal areas against the sea level rises that will result from global climate change and also provide benefits to wildlife. Many species are expected to re-colonise the area in large numbers including spoonbill, avocet, lapwing, and redshank and in winter the visitors will include large flocks of Brent geese, dunlin, widgeon and curlew. New visitors such as black-winged stilts will also be welcomed and plants such as samphire, sea aster and sea lavender are also expected to appear.
This wonderful partnership between the RSPB and Crossrail has created a lasting environmental legacy as well as supporting the economy and creating jobs through tourism.