Coastal Grazing Marsh

Grazing marsh in Essex

Grazing marsh is defined as periodically inundated pasture, or meadow with ditches which maintain the water levels, containing standing brackish or fresh water and in Essex the majority are found in coastal areas created from historically reclaimed saltmarsh. The ditches are especially rich in plants and invertebrates. Almost all areas are grazed and some are cut for hay or silage. Sites may contain seasonal water-filled hollows and permanent ponds with emergent swamp communities, but not extensive areas of tall fen species like reeds; although they may abut with fen and reed swamp communities. These habitats are particularly important for wading birds. There are an estimated 6500ha of coastal and floodplain grazing marsh in Essex – and targets have been set to maintain 6175ha restore 325ha and create 250ha

Project work

Essex Biodiversity Project has worked with Essex County Council's Marsh Farm County Park to identify and dig out a potential scrape to enhance a coastal grazing marsh habitat.

The HLS scheme for Lower Raypits went ‘live’ on the 1st October 2010. Over its ten year lifespan the
agreement is worth £254K. This is a large scheme involving the creation of new habitats and maintenance of existing interest. EBP have organised Land drainage, abstraction and impoundment licenses, contactor quotes and planning consent, and the completed scheme is now attracting increased numbers of coastal waders and wildflowl.

Fishers Estuarine moth has been introduced to the stand of Sea hogs fennel at Abbotts Hall Farm. A second batch of larvae were introduced in April 2011 and adult moths were recorded again in autumn 2011

EBP is assisting Natural England in carrying out monitoring of Sea hogs fennel and Fishers estuarine moth at Cudmore Grove, Abbotts Hall and Copt Hall.

EBP has assisted in ongoing scrub clearance work at Skippers Island to maintain populations of Sea hogs fennel and Fishers Estuarine Moth.

EBP has provided advice and comments on the draft Blackwater management plan.

The Essex Grazing Project

The Essex Grazing Project provides heritage grazing to many of the County's finest wildlife sites. Using our herd of native breed Red Poll cattle, we deliver bespoke conservation grazing to land managers of nature reserves and open spaces.
The Project aims to promote best-practice among site managers responsible for conserving the county's semi-natural grasslands and open habitats through grazing.
We work closely with the Essex Biodiversity Project to help implement the Essex Biodiversity Action Plan, and we are always keen to collaborate with ecologists, students and natural historians who are interested in monitoring the effects of grazing on our natural fauna and flora. Read more about our project on our website at
If you have a research idea or would like to survey one of the sites we graze please contact us by email.