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Wild Travel Magazine

RSPB Minsmere and Dingle Marshes damaged by surge tides

Minsmere facts.

  • Both Dingle and Minsmere are internationally important for their wildlife, and both support breeding bitterns, which have their UK stronghold in Suffolk. These saltwater breaches underline the importance and vulnerability of freshwater wetlands on the Suffolk coast to coastal surges and sea level rise. Reedbeds on the Suffolk coast had more than 45% of booming bitterns in the UK this year – but all in sites vulnerable to coastal change.
  • Minsmere RSPB nature reserve, which attracts more than 90,000 visitors annually and contributes more than £1 million pounds into the Suffolk coast.
November 2006. A surge tide and strong north-westerly winds on the Suffolk coast have led to flooding at Dingle Marshes and the RSPB’s flagship reserve at Minsmere.
Minsmere. © rspb-images.com
Large sections of the shingle ridge were washed away and the sea flooded across the site at Dingle Marshes (managed jointly with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust) killing large numbers of fish. It’s not the first time the reserve, valuable for its freshwater habitats and wildlife, has been flooded, but the flooding reached much farther inland than in 2003.

At Minsmere, a section of the dunes between Dunwich Cliffs and the reserve’s north wall was washed away, inundating an area along the front of the reserve in front of the sea wall. Salt water has not reached the ‘scrape’ or the main freshwater reedbeds, but the reserve has been left vulnerable to further flooding.

Both Dingle and Minsmere are internationally important for their wildlife, and both support breeding bitterns, which have their UK stronghold in Suffolk. These saltwater breaches underline the importance and vulnerability of freshwater wetlands on the Suffolk coast to coastal surges and sea level rise. Reedbeds on the Suffolk coast had more than 45% of booming bitterns in the UK this year – but all in sites vulnerable to coastal change. Projects are underway at both Dingle Marshes and Minsmere looking at the future of the sea defences. These projects, being managed by the Environment Agency, are making good progress in identifying options that can reduce the risk of saltwater flooding, and where necessary replace those habitats which cannot be sustainably protected.

RSPB Conservation Officer Renny Henderson said: ‘These recent floods underline the vulnerability of our freshwater wetlands, which are important for wildlife and for people. We must make progress on finding suitable options to manage the defences of these key wildlife sites and in planning for new sites for the future.’