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Environment Agency’s UK-wide salt marsh research project to launch at RSPB Freiston Shore Nature Reserve near Boston





A new UK-wide project will see the county’s salt marshes monitored to research how they capture and store carbon.

In partnership with the RSPB, the Environment Agency will be launching a new initiative at Freiston Shore Nature Reserve on The Wash, near Boston.

Two new flux towers (which measure carbon dioxide, water vapour, and energy) will be installed, one on a natural salt marsh and the other on a restored one, which some hope will help to gain a better understanding of how they function as carbon sinks.

The towers measure the exchanges of carbon dioxide, water vapour, and energy. Picture: Environment Agency
The towers measure the exchanges of carbon dioxide, water vapour, and energy. Picture: Environment Agency

Salt marshes provide many services, including habitat for creatures, natural flood defences and helping to capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store it.

It is estimated that 85% of UK saltmarsh has been lost since the mid-19th Century.

Dr Ben Green from the Environment Agency said: “These flux towers will improve our understanding of the ability of salt marsh habitats to sequester carbon across tides, days, seasons and years.

“The evidence they will provide will be key to support the further restoration of salt marshes, and for the inclusion of these habitats on the UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory".

The project has been funded by the Defra marine Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (mNCEA) programme.

The Environment Agency and scientists from the UK Centre Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) partnered with the Essex Wildlife Trust to install another tower in Essex, and a further tower will be added in the future.

The project will begin at RSPB Freiston Shore near Boston. Picture: Google Maps
The project will begin at RSPB Freiston Shore near Boston. Picture: Google Maps

Each will provide the first in-depth look into greenhouse gas storage and emissions in salt marshes in England.

Once the value of these ecosystems has been quantified, the EA hopes it will lead to increased conservation and restoration of salt marshes.

Toby Collett from the RSPB said: “The Wash estuary and the salt marshes here are globally important for wildlife, but they are also vital for our way of life, whether that’s fishing, protecting communities from flooding or storing carbon.

“We’re really excited that Freiston Shore is being used to understand more about these superpower habitats, and hope that this will lead to further protection and restoration efforts for saltmarshes across the UK.”



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