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Grazing and Foraging

Natural England define coastal and floodplain grazing marsh not as a specific habitat but a landscape type which supports a variety of habitats; the defining features being hydrological and topographical rather than botanical. Grazing marsh is defined as periodically inundated pasture or meadow, typically with ditches or rills containing standing brackish or fresh water. The majority of sites have low botanical grassland interest, but nevertheless support bird species of high conservation value, while the ditches can be especially rich in plants and invertebrates.

Grazing marsh is defined as periodically inundated pasture, or meadow with ditches which maintain the water levels, containing standing brackish or fresh water. The ditches are especially rich in plants and invertebrates. Almost all areas are grazed and some are cut for hay or silage. Grazing marshes are particularly important for the number of breeding waders they also support internationally important populations of wintering wildfowl. Coastal foraging covers a wide variety of wild food available at the coast such as plants, seaweeds, shellfish and crustaceans. 

Coastal grazing marsh is a habitat created by drainage and the creation of flood defences, as it occupies former intertidal zones. On-site adaptation of these coastal sites is therefore likely to involve the active management of flood defence and drainage systems, combined with off-site planning, including managed realignment, that will need to take into account the full suite of coastal habitats. Actions to promote adaptation should be integrated with the existing shoreline management planning process (source: Natural England).

Commercial harvesting of seaweed from areas of Crown Estate foreshore or seabed requires a licence from The Crown Estate. Seaweed collection for personal use, in small qualities does not require a licence. The Crown Estate does not licence harvesting of natural seaweeds in designated conservation areas. 

Solent Waders and Brent Goose Strategy

The Solent Waders and Brent Goose Strategy is a conservation partnership project, which aims to conserve the internationally important brent goose and wading bird populations within and around the Special Protection Areas and Ramsar wetlands of the Solent coast. One important habitat for the birds is coastal grazing marsh. 


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