Feb 22, 2016

Scottish Saltmarsh Survey Results

Results from Scotland’s first comprehensive national survey of an important coastal habitat have been published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).


The three-year long Scottish Saltmarsh Survey, a joint project between the two agencies, has mapped in detail, and assessed the condition of, all known saltmarshes larger than three hectares or longer than 500 metres across the Scottish mainland and offshore islands.


Saltmarshes are found at the top of the sea shore around the Scottish coast, with the largest areas in the Solway Firth. They are exposed at low tide and covered by seawater at high tide to varying degrees. Upper marsh is not covered on every tide, and forms a transition area into terrestrial habitats.


Professor Stewart Angus of SNH, who managed the project, said:

“The Scottish Saltmarsh Survey report gives us a really valuable ‘snapshot’ of a habitat that is likely to change considerably in coming years as a result of climate change. We now have detailed mapped information on four of Scotland’s most important coastal habitats – saltmarsh, machair, dune and shingle – known as ‘soft coasts’. This work also helps the Scottish Government to meet its European reporting obligations.”


Saltmarshes are important coastal habitats which provide us with a range of natural services. They help to filter and regulate water, provide defences against flooding and they act as a valuable carbon sink. Saltmarshes also provide a refuge and food for a range of breeding, wintering and migrating birds.


Saltmarsh vegetation can help scientists to assess changes in land use and management, and help understand how people are affecting the coastal environment. It can also allow changes in climate and coastal biodiversity to be detected reliably into the future.


The survey can be downloaded as PDF here.

Solway Firth Partnership