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Vegetated Shingle Study

New Forest District Council: £5,000 (2017-2018)

Located within the New Forest National Park, Hurst Spit is included within a plethora of national, European and international nature conservation designations. The type and extent of the specialised vegetated shingle species recorded include strandline communities through to more stabilised open shingle habitats and areas of shingle saltmarsh.

Hurst Spit is a highly managed beach, with an approved programme of ongoing maintenance and beach recycling operations to continue to provide effective flood risk management for the western Solent. The impact of these activities and storms on the vegetated shingle communities has not been assessed, although field observations suggest disturbance could promote regeneration and growth of vegetated shingle through seed dispersal.

The main aim of the project is to establish the response of vegetated shingle species to beach management activities and storm events at Hurst Spit. A combination of aerial photography digitising and vegetated shingle surveys will establish the response of the habitat since 2013. The project will continue into 2018, with aerial photography/topographic data being collected via a UAV, supported by further vegetated shingle surveys.

The findings and methodology will be applicable to development of a future beach management scheme at Hurst Spit, as well as other Beach Management Plan sites across the SCOPAC region.

June 2019 update: A draft report has been produced and reported to the SCOPAC Research sub-group, with a final draft due shortly. Natural England have reviewed the report and are supportive of the method and analysis applied. Comments are being incorporated into the final report to be followed by a presentation to SCOPAC.

Hurst Spit © English Nature