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. Increased river levels and degrading of the bank mean that the field regularly floods and will do so more often as the impacts of climate change take hold.

Working in partnership with the Environment Agency and supported by Natural England, work has started to return the farmland back to the River Tamar as part of plans to create a intertidal habitat which will be more resilient to the challenges posed by climate change and provide a richer environment for people and nature.

Works starting on stretch of land by the River Tamar
Works starting on stretch of land by the River Tamar
Works starting on stretch of land by the River Tamar

 

What’s happening?

Over the next few months the field by the quay car park will look a bit different.

Work has begun to create a series of channels within the field to help bring tidal waters in. A new embankment is also being built by the quay car park which will form the boundary of the new intertidal habitat and help protect the car park.

Later in the year a small breach will be created in the existing 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.

Plans showing the proposed works created by Bailey Partnership
The plans for the intertaidal habitat creation at Cotehele with Bailey Partnership
Plans showing the proposed works created by Bailey Partnership

Why are we doing this?

Increasing river levels and degrading of the bund mean that the farmland regularly floods in an uncontrolled way and will do so more often as the impacts of climate change take hold. We’re taking this problem and turning it into 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 become a never-ending task.

Work will also help alleviate regular flooding within the quay car park when we experience high tides and stormy or windy weather.

Uncontrolled flooding at high tide in February 2020
Flooding at Cotehele quay in February 2020
Uncontrolled flooding at high tide in February 2020

 

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.

Redshank
Redshank standing on the shore
Redshank

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.

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