Conserving inter-tidal wetlands
: a regional ecosystem-based approach to rehabilitation and recreation

  • David Edward Johnson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) depends on the recognition that benefits associated with healthy functioning (function benefits) of ecosystems are irreplaceable in ecological, geomorphological and social terms. A methodology for evaluating different inter-tidal wetlands on the basis of indicators representing their full range of functions is presented. Each inter-tidal wetland is attributed a function related score. These scores are region specific. Whilst they allow a ranking of inter-tidal wetland importance, they do not equate to economic value. A key advantage of this approach is that it quantifies the regional resource, and forms a basis upon which to consider the impact of future pressures and prioritise conservation actions. The methodology has been applied to the Solent and Poole Bay Marine Natural Area (MNA). The 13 inter-tidal wetlands within this region have been scored and ranked, highlighting the relative importance of the large inter-tidal wetlands of Poole, Chichester and Langstone Harbours compared with the smaller inter-tidal wetlands of the north shore of the Isle of Wight. The main challenges facing the conservation of this regional resource are evaluated and the cumulative impact/risk of key pressures is assessed. Lymington/Keyhaven and Southampton Water are considered to be the regional inter-tidal wetlands whose function benefits are most at risk over the next 20 years. A restoration target of 1200 ha of inter-tidal wetland is suggested for the MNA, with a recommendation that re-creation efforts should focus on Chichester Harbour. A detailed case study of the Lymington/Keyhaven inter-tidal wetland is presented. Technical rehabilitation solutions are suggested based on the synthesis of physical and ecological survey date. This research concludes that work to restore inter-tidal wetlands is urgently needed. Such work requires appropriate central Government funding together with a new mechanism, over and above existing compulsory purchase powers, to rationalize coastal landholdings. Investment should concentrate initially on the most easily rehabilitated and re-created sites, to offset the impact of natural forcing mechanisms associated with global environmental change. A role for environmental mediators in identified to raise the political and social acceptability of inter-tidal wetland restoration and a regional ecosystem-based approach is suggested as the best way forward
Date of Award1998
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Nottingham Trent University

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