The Wetland Book pp 1011-1022 | Cite as

The Wash Estuary and North Norfolk Coast (UK)

  • Nick C. Davidson
Reference work entry


The tidal embayment of The Wash and its associated barrier island system of the North Norfolk Coast extending eastwards along the north coast of East Anglia is the largest estuarine area in the United Kingdom. Their total area is 729.5 km2 (12.5% of the UK estuarine area and about 3.5% of estuarine area of northwest Europe), with intertidal flats and marshes covering 35.6 km2 (10.2% of the UK intertidal area). This coast is of major importance for breeding seals, for migratory waterbirds, supporting the largest nonbreeding waterbird population in the UK, and as a nursery area for fish. Almost the entire area is covered by multiple international, national and local nature conservation designations. The intertidal areas of The Wash have been progressively embanked and converted to farmland since at least Roman times – at about 470 km2 since Saxon times the largest area claimed from any UK estuary. A major shellfishery was overexploited in the 1980s and 1990s, leading to declines in internationally important waterbirds. Some parts of The Wash are now the subject of managed realignment projects aiming to reinstate tidal flats and marshes.


Estuary Tidal flats Saltmarsh Barrier Island Seals Migratory waterbirds Land-claim Ramsar Site Natura 2000 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt UniversityAlburyAustralia
  2. 2.Nick Davidson EnvironmentalWigmoreUK

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