Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 31–40

25 years of salt marsh erosion in Essex: Implications for coastal defence and nature conservation

  • Cooper Nicholas J. 
  • Cooper Tanja 
  • Burd Fiona 

DOI: 10.1007/BF02742465

Cite this article as:
Cooper, N.J., Cooper, T. & Burd, F. J Coast Conserv (2001) 7: 31. doi:10.1007/BF02742465


This paper presents the results from a study which was undertaken to monitor, map and quantify salt marsh change along 440 km of shoreline within the county of Essex, south-east England, between 1973 and 1998. Results indicate that during this 25-yr period, 1000 ha of salt marsh has been lost in Essex, primarily due to coastal erosion. This figure represents ca. 25% of the total salt-marsh area originally present in Essex in 1973. The salt marshes of Essex are important nature conservation areas, with many sites designated as Special Protection Areas under the EC Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) and as Special Areas of Conservation under the EC Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). Salt marshes are also natural features which significantly dissipate wave and tidal energy, thereby playing an important role in contributing to effective coastal defence. The large-scale loss of salt marsh in Essex has, therefore, implications for both nature conservation and flood defence. Potential hypotheses for, and implications of such losses are discussed in this paper, together with the identification of potential management approaches to alleviate the losses.


Aerial photography Coastal squeeze GIS Sea level rise 



Nature Conservancy Council


Institute of Terrestrial Ecology

Copyright information

© EUCC; Opulus Press Uppsala 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cooper Nicholas J. 
    • 1
  • Cooper Tanja 
    • 1
  • Burd Fiona 
    • 2
  1. 1.Halcrow MaritimeSwindonUK
  2. 2.Coastal EcologistBeverleyUK

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