Milestone as river bank is breached to return farmland to nature

The 15-metre opening in the river bank on the Tamar estuary in Cornwall is intended to create a new intertidal habitat.

Tamar estuary Cornwall
Tamar estuary Cornwall

A milestone has been reached in the creation of a new intertidal habitat in Cornwall.

A 15-metre breach has been made in a 19th century riverside bank on the Tamar estuary ready for the tide to flood in over low-grade farmland.

The farmland was created in 1850 when an embankment was built allowing the land to be drained for agriculture.

The National Trust is now creating the intertidal habitat and allowing the land to return to nature.

Cranes were used to create the breach in the riverbank (Steve Haywood/National Trust/PA)
Cranes were used to create the breach in the riverbank (Steve Haywood/National Trust/PA)

The project will also help alleviate flooding during high tides or heavy rains by creating more space for water.

Alastair Cameron, from the National Trust, said: “By creating new wetland habitat similar to that found before the embankment was built, we can make space for nature and water.

“This month we’ve made a relatively small breach in the bank and now we’ll let nature and the tides take their course. It’s really exciting to see the water flowing in now with the spring tides.”

Alastair Cameron, who oversaw the project, hopes to see a range of wildlife move in over the next decade (Steve Haywood/National Trust/PA)
Alastair Cameron, who oversaw the project, hopes to see a range of wildlife move in over the next decade (Steve Haywood/National Trust/PA)

The new habitat will over the next decade start to attract a wide range of wildlife, including worms and a range of wild birds, such as shelduck, redshank and teal ducks.

“Over the coming years we’ll start to see changes in the habitat which should attract typical Tamar estuary species and in time we’ll see more permanent intertidal vegetation increase like reeds which will attract more and different wildlife,” Mr Cameron said.

The project is being jointly funded by the Environment Agency and the National Trust.

Rob Price, from the Environment Agency, added: “We are very much looking forward to see the new inter tidal habitat establish over the next few years as the project now turns its focus to monitoring the benefits that this enhanced area will provide for local wildlife, habitats and people.

“This valuable work is an important part of an integrated programme of works to build the Tamar catchment’s resilience to a wide range of environmental pressures including those related to climate change.”

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