Saltmarsh is a critical coastal habitat in the UK which provides many benefits to the surrounding seascape.

Saltmarsh habitats support local biodiversity and are critically important for the Solent’s internationally renowned bird populations. Not only this, but saltmarsh habitats also act as a natural flood and coastal defence, they store carbon – mitigating the impacts of climate change – and improves water quality. Saltmarsh habitats are also important for nature tourism and are home to an incredible breadth of species to see.

Saltmarsh habitats are in decline across the Solent, facing increasing pressures from coastal development, rising sea levels, lack of sediment supply and damaging activities. The habitats that remains are currently decreasing in size and struggling to recover naturallyThis continued loss means that urgent action is needed to reverse the rate and scale of deterioration. We are working to actively restore and better protect saltmarsh habitats throughout the Solent.

We are trialing an innovative new technique to restore saltmarsh re-using channel sediments that would otherwise be disposed of at sea. In doing so, we are reducing pressures on other marine habitats and creating new saltmarsh habitats in the process. This method is called the Beneficial Use of Dredged Sediments, or BuDS. You can find out about our 2023 restoration trial in Chichester Harbour here, led by CHaPRoN.

Solent Seascape Project partners CHaPRoN, the Isle of Wight Estuaries Project and Coastal Partners will be delivering further saltmarsh restoration activity throughout the Solent, connected to our other habitat restoration sites. The Environment Agency also provides valuable technical expertise on habitat creation and restoration.