Coastal adaptation in action at Cwm Ivy

Cwm Ivy marsh at high tide

Welcome to the Cwm Ivy saltmarsh restoration project site

Cwm Ivy marsh, on the North Gower coast, was claimed from the sea as farmland in the 17th century. It was protected by a sea defence which over the years was increased in size and strength. In 2014 the sea wall breached and the sea is reclaiming the land, transforming Cwm Ivy freshwater marsh to saltmarsh. 

Within this article we’re keeping you up to date with the changes happening at Cwm Ivy. If you scroll back through the posts you can see how it’s transformed from the early days after the breach to the thriving habitat it is today. 

Habitat transformation at Cwm Ivy

This transformation began in 2014 when the sea wall breached and the sea came rushing in to Cwm Ivy marsh for the first time in hundreds of years. 

In the early days, it looked like a sea of mud, as one habitat reacted to the influx of saltwater and started its transformation to a new habitat. 

We were confident that the salty mud and water coming through the breach would bring with it an array of seeds from specialist salt-tolerant plants and that Cwm Ivy marsh would return to its saltmarsh roots. 

We were amazed by the pace of change, and what we can see now, such a short time on, is mind-blowing. We’ve come from those tentative first steps to a thriving habitat, absolutely teaming with wildlife. 


Three years on from the breach

Cwm Ivy marsh, in just three years, has transformed, by the winter of 2017, we had a fully functioning saltmarsh at Cwm Ivy. Watch the video to hear about the transformation and habitat gains at Cwm Ivy.

Monitoring the change

Since the breach, we’ve been regularly monitoring the plants, birds, mammals, invertebrates and sediment composition at Cwm Ivy. This monitoring has helped us to understand the habitat transformation at Cwm Ivy. 

" The rate of change has exceeded all expectations. Just three years on and we have a dynamic and thriving set of intertidal habitats here at Cwm Ivy"
- Corrine Benbow, Salt marsh Project Officer

Through our monitoring we’ve been able to keep a close eye on how the habitat has changed, comparing records from before and after the breach. 

The detailed monitoring allows us to understand the complexity of the developing ecosystem and how this compares with other similar coastal realignment sites. It also enables us to share knowledge with others – the public, schools, scientists and researchers, as well as land managers across the UK. 

Why allow the sea in?

In places like Cwm Ivy, rising sea levels are having a big impact. In line with our Shifting Shores report, which held one clear message… as a nation we can no longer build our way out of trouble on the coast. This meant that at Cwm Ivy, we were no longer trying to defy nature by holding back the tide, instead, letting nature take its course. 

Latest posts

09 Mar 18

Frozen salt water!

You know it’s cold when even salt water freezes solid! The ‘beast from the east’ hit our shores this month and transformed the salt marsh into an ice rink!

Cwm Ivy marsh frozen solid in winter 2018, Gower

05 Feb 18

A full larder

No matter how cold it gets, Cwm Ivy remains a vital source of food for all kinds of bird, including these chaffinches, resting between feeding on the saltmarsh seeds.

Winter feeding chaffinches at Cwm Ivy, Gower

14 Dec 17

Saltmarsh plants get everywhere

Specially adapted, salt-tolerant plants really are all over the place at Cwm Ivy-here is some Thrift Armeria maritima growing on one of the trees..!

Saltmarsh plants grow everywhere - even on the trees at Cwm Ivy Marsh, Gower