Chichester Harbour Conservancy: Return of the tern - the Green Recovery Challenge fund winner
Published 17:42 on 16 Mar 2022
A joint project between the Friends of Chichester Harbour and the Conservancy secured funding in 2021 for £182,300 from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund to support the harbour's population of common terns, sandwich terns and little terns in our harbour.
These seabirds will only nest in coastal shingle habitats, so this ambitious project bid included shingle recharging at two identified locations on Stakes Island and Ella Nore Spit, with the further deployment of nine new Tern 'rafts' recreating a floating shingle habitat in various locations dotted around the harbour.
As the locations are within Chichester Harbour's designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) an application for consent has been submitted to Natural England and similarly a consent request from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
The first part of the project is gathering momentum with an application to start the recharge of shingle on Stakes Island close to the 'Park' racing mark and just south of the Chidham Peninsula. The island regularly floods, thus ending any chance of the birds breeding so the project aims to significantly raise the height of Stakes Island and avoid overtopping on high tides.
Help has been provided by marine surveyors ABPmer with recent experience in similar shingle recharging sites across the Solent. The decision is to focus this habitat enhancement works on the southern section of Stakes Island. Although this might not be a long-term solution the shingle recharge is anticipated to be effective for 10 years and anticipated future 'top ups' of shingle at regular intervals will maintain the work's integrity.
Around 1,000 tonnes of washed shingle aggregate, dredged locally from the Solent, will be supplied by Kendall Aggregates. With Stakes Island not accessible by land, the material and equipment will be delivered by barge during spring high tides. The Conservancy will work closely with contractors and ensure minimal disturbance to harbour users and, more importantly, operations will be carried out during periods of least impact to breeding and wintering birds.
This project will help to preserve the colonies of these much-loved seabirds in our harbour.