One of the core duties of Natural England is to ensure protection and management of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), which underpin England’s Natura 2000 network. This network of designated sites includes the Alde-Ore Estuary, Deben Estuary and Hamford Water SSSIs, which form the geographical basis for this study. These estuarine systems support a variety of habitats including intertidal sandflats, mudflats and saltmarsh, tidal creeks, sand banks, vegetated shingle and saline lagoons which are also designated within Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Areas (SPA), Ramsar sites and National Nature Reserves (NNR).
The aim of this study is to apply the Healthy Estuaries 2020 toolbox software and methodology already developed (Natural England, 2015) at the Alde-Ore Estuary, Deben Estuary and Hamford Water SSSIs to provide information on the ‘health’ of these systems to support condition assessments. The aim is to determine how far each estuary is from favourable condition with regard to one of its morphological equilibrium attributes (tidal prism/cross-sectional area relationship) in accordance with Common Standards Monitoring (CSM) guidance