Working with and for nature: creating new habitat at Cotehele quay
We’re creating a wildlife rich intertidal habitat in the field below the woodland path by Cotehele Quay
The field below the woodland path by Cotehele Quay was originally converted into farmland in 1850 when an enclosing embankment was built. Now the field has become part of the original flood plain as a 15-metre breach has been made in the riverside bank to allow the tide to flood in.
Working in partnership with the Environment Agency and supported by Natural England, the work forms part of a larger programme of habitat creation and improvement throughout the Tamar catchment which aims to create new intertidal habitat which will improve the resilience to the changing climate and to provide a richer environment for people and nature.
What has happened?
The first phase of the project was completed in April 2021 when channels were created within the field to help bring tidal waters in. A new embankment was also built by the quay car park to form the boundary of the intertidal habitat and to help protect the car park.
In September 2021 a breach was made in the 19th century bank to allow tidal waters to regularly flow into the channels across the field, beginning the creation of a richer habitat for nature that will take place over the coming years.
An aerial view of the field at Cotehele Quay before work commenced to create the new intertidal habitat
Work begins to create the channels within the field which will eventually help to bring tidal water in
Work begins to breach the 19th century riverside bank ready for the tide to flood in
As the tide starts to rise, river water starts to enter via the 15-metre wide breach
A few days after the breach in the bank was made, the water from the high tide flooded the intertidal habitat area
Why have we done this?
Increasing river levels and degrading of the bund mean that the farmland regularly flooded in an uncontrolled way and will do so more often as the impacts of climate change take hold. We took this as an opportunity to create a new space for nature, while also allowing the Tamar to regain some of its natural form.
Working with nature rather than against it is a more sustainable and long-term solution and is much less costly than a continual cycle of build and repair. As our climate changes, the frequency to repair the old embankment would have become a never-ending task.
The work will also help alleviate regular flooding within the quay car park when we experience high tides and stormy or windy weather.
Making space for nature
Over the next 5-10 years the naturally created intertidal habitat will start to attract a wide range of wildlife, such as shelduck, redhank and little egret. Over time the area will see an increase of more permanent intertidal vegetation like reeds which will attract more and different wildlife.
The intertidal habitat will also help to hold carbon, clean river water by trapping sediment and making more space for river water when the Tamar floods.
How is the project funded?
The project is being funded by the Environment Agency Water Environment Investment Fund and the National Trust’s own Neptune Coastline Campaign – which raises money specifically for coastal projects.