Flooding Coastal Wetlands and Creating New Wetlands

As climate change accelerates and earth’s average temperatures continue
to rise, it is vital to find innovative ways to store carbon. One such
example can be found outside Fakirk in eastern Scotland, where an area of
the Skinflats RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) reserve was
restored to saltmarsh by flooding it in 2018. A digger was used to breach
the sea wall and then sea water inundated the area. Careful studies were
conducted before and after the process. The resulting saltmarsh resembles
the pre-existing area of saltmarsh, in a remarkably short period of time. In
addition to increasing the wildlife value of the area, the mud is locking up
‘blue carbon’, that is the carbon stored in plants and soils, as organic
material rich in carbon accumulates in the soil. In essence, saltmarshes
build up stores of carbon that would otherwise be released to the
atmosphere as greenhouse gas. Thus, re-flooding coastal wetlands and,
indeed, creating new wetlands, could be used as a tool to reduce our
carbon footprint, in conjunction with a reduction in emissions. As sea levels
rise, one option would be to let coastal areas flood, taking the ‘soft
engineering’ approach rather than the ‘hard engineering’ approach.
Another topic!