Is ‘minimising the footprint’ an effective intervention to maximise the recovery of intertidal sediments from disturbance? Phase 1: Literature review (NECR110)

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Activity on intertidal soft sediments can cause damage or disturbance of the habitat from abrasion, penetration and removal. For example, vehicles used to reach cockle beds for fishing or access to structures such as piers for maintenance works.

Natural England’s advice in these situations has been based around sensitivities of habitats assessed on the MarLIN website. Generally, the advice has been that developers and developments should minimise the scale and extent, of the impact within the environment. This approach of ‘minimising the footprint’ generally leads to a more intense disturbance over a relatively smaller area. Recent anecdotal evidence suggests that recovery is quicker, and more complete, if the disturbance covers a wider area, but at a lower intensity.

This work was commissioned to review existing information on recovery of intertidal soft sediment habitats from different levels and intensities of disturbance.

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