Cwm Ivy Habitat Creation Project

Challenge

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the National Trust are working in partnership to create 39 hectares of new saltmarsh habitat at Cwm Ivy Marsh, Gower.  The compensatory habitat is required for future saltmarsh loss in Carmarthen Bay due to coastal squeeze.  Cwm Ivy is a sensitive environment, encompassing a variety of designations such as Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area (European sites), Ramsar site, National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The saltmarsh represents the first contribution to Welsh Government’s National Habitat Creation Programme (NHCP), which must deliver more than 600ha of compensation habitat.  For NRW, it represents a critical step in delivering the NHCP requirements.  For the National Trust, it offers an opportunity to implement their Shifting Shores policy and provide a sustainable solution to the management of sea level rise at Cwm Ivy.

Sea level rise means that the existing sea wall was already being overtopped, resulting in the failure of the embankment in 2013.  Since then, the sea has begun to gradually reclaim the marsh and the breach has continued to grow and is now 15m wide.  We assisted the project partners to identify the best option to deliver the saltmarsh habitat.  A range of factors influenced this process including the presence of the European sites, the condition of the embankment, and the need to maintain public access on the Wales Coast Path.

Solution

To assess the range of options, a series of environmental assessment work was conducted.  This included an Ecosystem Services Assessment, which provided analysis of the benefits the ecosystems within and surrounding Cwm Ivy provided.  In addition to this analysis, each of the options were assessed to determine the effect the option would have on each of the ecosystem services.

In addition to the environmental assessments, we also provided support to NRW and National Trust during public engagement sessions.  This included providing public consultation material and being present during the engagement sessions.

The options were assessed with consideration to the environment, economics and regulatory requirements.  The preferred option was ‘no active intervention’, to let the sea continue to create saltmarsh habitat.  This avoided significant costs and regulatory requirements while also providing the opportunity to provide optimal standard saltmarsh habitat.

Benefits

The successful project led to Wales’ first area of saltmarsh habitat creation, allowing future flood alleviation schemes to progress elsewhere in Carmarthen Bay.  This allowed NRW to comply with the Shoreline Management Plans and the Habitats Regulations, and National Trust to comply with its Shifting Shores policy.  Cwm Ivy is now being demonstrated as an example project for future habitat creation projects in Wales.

Contact us

For more information: David Revill



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