Forth Reserve Warden, Allison Leonard, gives a final update on the Skinflats managed realignment project.

After years of discussion, months of planning and weeks of digger work, on Wednesday 3rd October, the seawall at RSPB Scotland Skinflats reserve was finally breached, and the realignment project was completed.

The majority of the project team were on hand to witness the final few dumper loads of material being removed and used elsewhere on site.

One of the diggers working on removing the seawall to create the 25m breach (photo credit: David Palmar)

While it was all very exciting to see the breach completed, we actually had to wait two days until we saw any water enter the site via the new gap, because the high tides were so low that week: great for carrying out work on the saltmarsh, but it did mean it was all a little bit of an anti-climax! We are patient though and, finally, on Friday 5th October, the tides were just high enough to enter the site... but only just!

The almost complete seawall breach (photo credit: J Leonard)

However, the tides the following week did not disappoint with several 6m+ tides, which is about as high as the tide gets in the Forth. So, again, we gathered to watch as the water gently flowed on to site (honestly, we do actually do some work occasionally).  It was fantastic to watch as our new lagoon was quickly filled and our new shingle topped island (huge thanks to our volunteers for their help with that!) became an island. It was clear that the birds were enjoying the waters as much as we were, with flocks of gulls, black tailed godwits and even lapwings eyeing up the site. Unfortunately both of the time lapse cameras we had out missed all of the action, so we are unable to share that first inundation with you. But photos taken a few days later from above show how amazing the site looks.

The newly flooded Skinflats managed realignment, taken shortly before a 6.2m tide (photo credit: J Leonard)

The site is still quite muddy and raw looking, as it will take a bit of time for everything to settle down. But the muddy patches are starting to green up a little already, and it won't be long before we start to see changes in the vegetation and some new channels beginning to form. 

It has been a massive team effort to complete this project and we are all very much looking forward to watching the site develop in the next few years. 

If you are considering a visit to Skinflats, we would kindly request that you arrive on foot or by bike, as the reserve has a very small car park, and we wish to avoid disturbance to our neighbours. There is a car park by the motorway slip road.

This project has been generously funded by EcoCo LIFE and the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative.

You can read our previous blogs on this project here: 

Skinflats managed retreat gets underway

It's getting muddy out there!

We're getting there 

  • Great effort RSPB and every one else concerned. We are loosing so much salt marsh it’s good to a good chunk being created. Good luck with any remainder of the project. I am sure the birds will love their new habitat. Might even get some twite  feeding on the salt mash once it has matured.