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Sustainable mudflats and saltmarshes. Natalie Foster, PhD student Faculty of Engineering and the Environment n Research context. Research description.

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Sustainable mudflats and saltmarshes

Natalie Foster, PhD student

Faculty of Engineering and the Environment

Research context

Research description

This research aims to design and validate a systemic-level decision-support system (DSS) to facilitate concerted actions to better mitigate and manage intertidal mudflat and saltmarsh degradation and loss.

The Solent region, where mudflat and saltmarsh loss presents a significant challenge to decision makers, will be used as a case study. The objectives are: to ascertain the context which frames the decision-making situation through desk studies and in-depth interviews; to design a DSS based on the learning from the above; and to validate the DSS via action research.

Cope et al. (2008) Solent Dynamic Coast Project: Summary Report.

New Forest District Council / Channel Coast Observatory.

Intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes comprise the sedimentary shores of estuaries and other sheltered areas in temperate and high latitude regions (Figure 1). They are increasingly valued for their biodiversity and their role in sustainable coastal erosion and flood defence.

However, these habitats and their tropical equivalent, mangroves, are globally in decline. This is predominantly attributed to land claim for agriculture, industry and waste disposal; vegetation die-back; and sea-level rise. This puts their services and the species that depend on them at increasing risk.

Figure 2: Solent coastline (Cope et al., 2008)

Figure 1: Mudflats and saltmarshes in Yarmouth Estuary, Isle of Wight, UK

Research impact

The outcomes of this research will be an improved understanding of the concerted actions to mitigate and manage mudflat and saltmarsh degradation and loss in the Solent region; a better understanding of the historical, environmental, socio-economic, legislative and political factors that influence concerted actions to realize sustainable mudflats and saltmarshes; and a DSS for use in similar future complex decision-making situations across the UK.