Rachel Lamb, National Trust Visitor Services and Enterprises Assistant, tells us about Brownsea Island Lagoon and the Impact of Climate Change and Sea Level Rises there.

Brownsea Island Lagoon is a quiet, undisturbed haven, yet within a short distance of a commercial port and shipping lanes, thousands of pleasure craft, fishing operations and other water based activities, holiday beaches and tourist resorts.  Despite this it remains a safe refuge regardless of the time of day and state of the tide in the wider harbour. A plethora of birdlife uses it for breeding, roosting, overwintering or some are just passing through on migration to rest and refuel on route to other destinations. 

The National Trust has undertaken a review of the physical nature of the lagoon and come to an understanding of how it will be affected by climate change and sea level rise.  It is apparent that the feature will not survive long term, but we now have a clearer idea of how we can continue to manage the lagoon to benefit wildlife now and secure the future of wildlife that depend upon it long-term both on Brownsea and in the wider Poole Harbour landscapes.  This will involve working with land-owning partners and ecologists to ensure the relevant mix of habitats remain available to benefit all wild-life but, in particular, the most ‘at-risk’ and highly valued species such as the terns, avocets and godwits.

  

1. Photo of an avocet

Unlike much of the harbour, the lagoon is free from human disturbance and mammalian predators, yet probably the most watched over site in the harbour and visited by thousands of birdwatchers.

 

2. Photo of a sandwich tern by Colin Scott

Of national and international importance for several species, it holds a minimum of 1 percent of a national and international population.  The lagoon has a constant, controlled water level, by means of a sluice and pumps, creating optimum water depths for waders and some wildfowl.  Brownsea Island is located close to the entrance of Poole Harbour allowing easy access for feeding birds to the open seas.  A mix of salt and fresh water means that the lagoon only freezes at the severest of temperatures, maintaining safe ground for the birdlife that thrives there.

 

3. Photo Large Flock of Waders by Monique Vanstone

 

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