Green Shores Coastal Habitat Restoration

Finding natural solutions to flooding & erosion



Funded by the St Andrews Links Trust, the Ministry of Defence, Fife Council, the Royal Dornoch Golf Club and Leader. Kindly supported by Fife Coast & Countryside Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Saltmarshes provide wildlife with habitat and protect valuable land from coastal flooding and erosion but shoreline degradation and climate change are placing these habitats under increasing threat. A restoration partnership is combatting this loss in order to strengthen shorelines against rising sea levels.

One of the last remaining fragments of Western Atlantic saltmarsh in the Eden Estuary.

‘Green Shores’ is an innovative applied research project, unique to Scotland, that aims to restore fringe saltmarsh habitat to key sections of shoreline in three of Scotland’s most economically and ecologically important estuaries: The Eden and Tay Estuaries and the Dornoch Firth.

A swamp saltmarsh of Sea Club Rush (Bolboschoenus maritimus), planted in 2015. The saltmarsh in the background has recovered from erosion.

The work began many years ago, involving transplants of Sea Club Rush (Bolboschoenus maritimus) taken from healthy marshes and planted into degraded sections of shoreline. The strategy has been successful but we learnt that the washout rate can be high until the transplants have fully established, and that the relatively small donor marshes provide a limited amount of transplants.

This latest venture will address these issues by developing a coastal plant hub facility – a first in the UK – to supply saltmarsh transplants for large-scale field trials. These trials will test coir bio-rolls as wave-protection devices, used to good effect in river restoration schemes in England, but in this project we are working with landowners to test them in a range of estuary shoreline settings.

The start of the Coastal Plant Hub at the Eden Course, St Andrews Links, involving the erection of a polytunnel to grow saltmarsh and a range of other coastal plants.

Biodegradable bio-rolls that will be used as wave breaks to protect the new transplants. (Image courtesy of Salix River & Wetland Services Ltd.)

Together with local communities, we intend to demonstrate the considerable benefits of restoring fringe saltmarshes. Restoration could be a significant tool to lower flood and erosion risks across Scotland’s vulnerable shores, now and increasingly in the face of growing climate change risks.

For more information, please contact Dr Clare Maynard