Construction just began on the The Wallasea Island Wild Coast project, which is set to be Europe’s largest man-made nature reserve! The massive scheme currently under construction in Essex, UK, will see the Wallasea Island area transformed from farmland into a 1,500 acre wetland. This week, 4.5 millions tons of London clay (excavated from underneath the capital) arrived in Essex where the material will be used in the creation of the large-scale nature reserve.
The London clay was removed as part of London’s Crossrail project – a 13-mile-long tunnel being bored through the city. While 4.5 million tons seems like a lot, it is approximately half the amount of clay that will be used to transform the farmland into marshes, lagoons and mudflats in order to attract birds and other wildlife. The project is due to be completed by 2020, and it will cost about £50m in total.
Speaking to BBC News, RSPB’s Director for Eastern England Paul Forecast said: “The Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project is a landmark engineering and conservation project for the 21st Century. It sees partnerships coming together to recreate vital habitat along the Essex coast that was once lost.”
He added: “We are really excited to be embarking upon a project of this scale, bringing together a UK major civil engineering project and Europe’s largest conservation organization to secure the future of this magnificent place for people and wildlife for many generations to come.”
In a statement, the RSPB’s chief executive Mike Clarke said: “This is the largest coastal habitat creation of its kind in Europe and it will transform an area more than double the size of the City of London back to the coastal marshland it once was.” “Wallasea Island will show for the first time on a large scale how it’s possible to ‘future proof’ low-lying coasts against sea level rise caused by climate change. This will deliver benefits to wildlife and provide a wonderful place for people to enjoy.”
The project is all part of the government’s plan to recreate 3,600 hectares (8,900 acres) of sal tmarshes and mudflat habitat by 2015.
Images: RSPB (Hilary Hunter)