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Tuesday, May 03, 2005
 
Bird reserve opens floodgates to nature

JAMES REYNOLDS
ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT
7 April 2005

THE Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is to surrender another of its Scottish coastal reserves to the power of the North Sea, with possibly more to follow, in an effort to prepare for the effects of global warming.

Sea-wall flood defences will be deliberately breached at the organisation’s Skinflats reserve on the south bank of the Firth of Forth about three miles west of Grangemouth, allowing the sea - which is rising due to climate change - to flood the land.

It is hoped the process, known as managed coastal realignment, will return a large part of the 13-hectare reserve to salt marsh habitat, providing a haven for rare birds and a natural defence against flooding.

The recent Foresight Report on Future Flooding suggested that average temperatures in Scotland will increase by 3.5C by 2080, and that sea levels could increase by anything from 20 to 70cm by 2050.

Coastal realignment is seen as a natural way to prepare for such an eventuality, while allowing salt marsh to regenerate on its own and countering its disappearance at a rate of 100 hectares a year in the UK. It is also more ecologically beneficial than building gigantic concrete sea walls to oppose an inevitable and organic process.

From: The Scotsman

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