The impact of pre-restoration land-use and disturbance on sediment structure, hydrology and the sediment geochemical environment in restored saltmarshes

Spencer, Kate L., Carr, Simon ORCID logo ORCID: , Diggens, Lucy M., Tempest, James A., Morris, Michelle A. and Harvey, Gemma L. (2017) The impact of pre-restoration land-use and disturbance on sediment structure, hydrology and the sediment geochemical environment in restored saltmarshes. Science of the Total Environment, 587-88 . pp. 47-58.

[thumbnail of Carr_TheImpactOf.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License CC BY-NC-ND

Download (1MB) | Preview
Official URL:


Saltmarshes are being lost or degraded as a result of human activity resulting in loss of critical ecosystem services including the provision of wild species diversity, water quality regulation and flood regulation. To compensate, saltmarshes are being restored or re-created, usually driven by legislative requirements for increased habitat diversity, flood regulation and sustainable coastal defense. Yet, there is increasing evidence that restoration may not deliver anticipated ecosystem services; this is frequently attributed to poor drainage and sediment anoxia. However, physical sediment characteristics, hydrology and the sediment geochemical environment are rarely examined in restoration schemes, despite such factors being critical for plant succession. This study presents the novel integration of 3D-computed X-ray microtomography to quantify sediment structure and porosity, with water level and geochemical data to understand the impact of pre-restoration land use and disturbance on the structure and functioning of restored saltmarshes. The study combines a broad-scale investigation of physical sediment characteristics in nine de-embanked saltmarshes across SE England, with an intensive study at one site examining water levels, sediment structure and the sediment geochemical environment. De-embankment does not restore the hydrological regime, or the physical/chemical framework in the saltmarshes and evidence of disturbance includes a reduction in microporosity, pore connectivity and water storage capacity, a lack of connectivity between the sub-surface environment and overlying floodwaters, and impeded sub-surface water flow and drainage. This has significant consequences for the sediment geochemical environment. This disturbance is evident for at least two decades following restoration and is likely to be irreversible. It has important implications for plant establishment in particular, ecosystem services including flood regulation, nutrient cycling and wild species diversity and for future restoration design.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Science of the Total Environment
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1879-1026
Departments: Academic Departments > Science, Natural Resources & Outdoor Studies (SNROS) > STEM
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2019 12:37
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 17:31


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

Edit Item