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Solent Mudflat Disturbance Group 


in 2019, NEG established a working group which met and agreed the need for a strategy to look at the impacts from activities on mudflats in the Solent's designated sites. The initial data was derived from the TEMITH project outputs (University of Portsmouth), however this does not provide a Solent wide picture.  At the working group in December 2020, basic Solent Forum google mapping was shown for different bait digging/hand gathering datasets.  With an additional small amount of Natural England funding, the University of Portsmouth (UoP) continues to build on the original TEMITH data to map the extent of bait collection and hand gathering sites using Chichester Harbour as a case study.  The Chichester Harbour Case Study Report was sent in July 2021 to the Sussex IFCA and it will be presented at the November 2021 NEG meeting by UoP; a discussion will take place on how this work can be rolled out to other Solent sites.  

From 2022, the Natural Environment Group is managing project on Solent Intertidal Bird Sensitivity Mapping.  This project aims to map the areas in the Solent most sensitive to bird disturbance; it will help prioritise areas in the Solent for further work on mapping mudflat disturbance.

The Solent Forum project proforma summarises action progress.

University of Portsmouth Temith Project

Using the Solent region on the south coast of England as a case study, the Total Ecosystem Management of the InterTidal Habitat (TEMITH) project aims to determine the feasibility of using Earth Observation technology to provide the key information for evidence-based decision making by stakeholders. The ability to detect and map three key pressures on intertidal habitats using EO data has been prioritised for this project. These include opportunistic macroalgal mats, which can indicate nutrient enrichment, sediment disturbance caused by bait collection, dredging, and boats, and wastewater plumes, which can encompass a range of pressures that may affect water quality. 

"Mudflats might not sound exciting but are actually a biological powerhouse, a key habitat providing essential services for countless species, supporting biodiversity and supporting us. As mudflats build up, they capture all manner of organic material from the water column which feeds bacteria, fungi and microscopic algae that teem within the mud. Millions of small invertebrates burrow into the mud or forage on its surface, some of these animals, for example sea bass, clams and oysters, can even feed us!
The food produced by mudflats goes directly to feeding the many wading and other bird species which rely on them such as Brent Geese, Godwit and Plover species. Mudflats also have a vital role in storing carbon and processing excessive organic material, sewage and nitrate fertilisers in agricultural runoff, helping to improve the water quality in our stressed estuaries and the wider Solent."

Marine Specialist Tim Ferrero, Hants & Wight Wildlife Trust