WWT awarded £21 million to restore coastal saltmarsh in UK

WWT has teamed up with Aviva, the savings and insurance business, on a ground-breaking project to restore saltmarshes in the UK – unlocking the superpowers of wetlands.

Aviva, which has committed to invest £100m into nature-based solutions by 2030, has awarded WWT £21 million for the project, making it one of the largest of its kind in the UK. This pioneering partnership will enable us to restore and manage coastal saltmarsh at a landscape-scale and fund research into measuring and maximising its benefits.

Saltmarsh, a nature-rich habitat historically in serious decline, is a mix of coastal land and water that helps to combat the causes and effects of climate change. Saltmarshes are brilliant carbon sinks, accumulating carbon forty times faster than forests, and offer natural flood protection; they also teem with wildlife that often cannot survive elsewhere, help improve water quality and make us feel better. A natural solution to some of our world’s most pressing problems.

Drawing on our expertise in conservation and research, the funding will also enable us to develop ‘best practice guidelines and on the ground’ analysis to provide a catalyst for further investment in saltmarsh creation across the UK. It builds on the work we’ve already done, and continue to do, at WWT Steart Marshes in Somerset.

Sarah Fowler, Chief Executive of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust said:

“We are incredibly excited about our new transformative partnership with Aviva which aims to unlock the superpowers of wetlands to help combat the interlinked emergencies of climate change and catastrophic biodiversity loss.

“This ground-breaking project will allow us to apply our wide experience of restoring wetlands to create much needed new saltmarsh, and fund research to help us understand how to maximise and replicate its full potential for existing and future generations.

“With the climate and nature crises showing no sign of slowing there has never been a more crucial time for this partnership, which will deliver effective natural solutions to urgent man-made problems.”

Claudine Blamey, Aviva’s Group Sustainability Director, said:

“Saltmarshes are precious habitats that have a significant role to play in fighting the climate emergency and improving the UK’s climate resilience. Not only do they remove carbon from the atmosphere and support biodiversity, they also deliver flood mitigation benefits for nearby communities.

"We are delighted to fund leading research that will make a genuine contribution to the wider understanding of how saltmarshes can help move Aviva and the UK towards our net zero ambitions.”

The project will run over 17 years. We are currently working on the details of bringing the project to life. We will be sharing more information as our plans develop and we start work on the ground.

As well as working with partners on large-scale restoration projects such as this, WWT is campaigning for 100,000 more hectares of wetlands in the UK. You can add your voice to the campaign by signing the Wetlands Can pledge.

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