Man Sands marshland project
The team of English Riviera countryside rangers have been working on a long-term project at Man Sands to return what was farmland to its original marshland state, to encourage birds to use this habitat. Find out all about the evolution and end result of the Man Sands marshland project.
Beginnings of the project
A popular spot
The next phase
Mansands beach and surrounding farmland has been part of ongoing conservation work for a number of years. This initially started when manmade sea defences were removed and the decision was made to not replace them and let natural processes take place.
As a part of this initial work a wetland site was created behind the beach, which over the years has begun to really develop around the beach fringes. We now have a well-established reed bed and pools in this area with breeding records for Cetti’s warbler and Reed warbler over the last few years alongside the more common wildfowl.
The developing wetland near the beach was very precarious and regularly adversely affected by storms and rain fall events causing the loss of the standing water and reed bed as well as the flooding/washing away of the South West Coast Path making it impassable.
These events are likely to become more regular over the coming years and with the potential for sea level rises, the South West Coast Path could be lost completely and the wetland become a salt marsh. This project was always likely to be very fluid due to the nature of the site and the next phase of the scheme was to look at safeguarding both the South West Coast Path and the fresh water wetland.
After a number of discussions with Natural England and the South West Coast Path Association it was felt that undertaking large scale flood defences and damming near the beach to protect the path and wetland would be against the aims of natural processes, unpractical and unviable due to the likelihood of continued storm and flooding damage.
The finished result
Work went ahead to create a new alternative route for the South West Coast Path further up the valley near the bird hide, and use this as an opportunity to create a new area of standing water and reed beds further from the beach.
This will develop and remain undisturbed from potential storm damage providing a more stable habitat for the flora and fauna using the site as well as creating conditions to encourage other species to colonise. We also did some new infrastructure work to ensure that appropriate grazing can be undertaken on the site to control vegetation on the site, and completed the project at the end of winter 2019