Annual Report

To harness ecological research to integrated land management
especially in the coastal zone.

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LAB Coastal,
The Maylands,
Back Lane, Holywell,
St Ives, Cambs
PE27 4TQ

Stop Press: 2003 Annual Report now available for download :: Click here to download PDF now

Annual Report 2002

A major theme in 2002 was the consolidation of results from various projects and the presentation of papers at major ecological conferences (in Galway, Porto and Edinburgh). The theme of salt marsh function and management continued through the year with a contract from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to research and write a ‘Salt marsh review – the provision of an over view of the dynamics and sensitivity characteristics of salt marsh’. The work associated with this contract provided an excellent opportunity to undertake a major update of all the latest research relating to salt marshes. While the review was specifically commissioned to cover the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) much valuable information was obtained from studies right across the world.

The presentation from L A B Coastal at the Porto conference considered the topical matter of salt marsh creation and management. The vegetation pattern on these newly created marshes is very different from that found on mature marshes. This suggests that the soil conditions may be limiting normal vegetation development and implies that special techniques will be needed to enhance the processes involved. For pioneer salt marsh to develop a proportion of the sediment load in the water covering the marsh at high tide has to be trapped by salt marsh plants and subsequently incorporated into the marsh substrate.A long term project of L A B Coastal has been the study of changes in the machair (sand dune plains) on the west coast of the island of Harris. The spit extending across a sheltered arm of the sea has changed greatly in extent over the past century with erosion being the dominant process but recently there are definite signs of recovery with a significant area of new low pioneer dunes being formed. Past erosion has also uncovered an area of ‘beachrock’, sand grains cemented by deposits of calcium carbonate. This formation is common in tropical beaches but is very unusual in northern latitudes.