An assessment of saltmarshes restored through sedimentation polder construction

Saltmarshes are being restored by the construction of sedimentation polders. This project will assess if the saltmarsh forming in sedimentation polders delivers ecosystem service provision equivalent to pre-existing saltmarsh habitat.

Department: Geography & Environmental Science

Supervised by: Jonathan Dale

The Placement Project

Saltmarsh restoration is being conducted through the construction of sedimentation polders, usually made from brushwood fencing. The fencing is designed to encourage saltmarsh growth by trapping sediment added alongside fence construction or by reducing current velocities and encouraging deposition. Whilst extensive research has been conducted into other forms of saltmarsh restoration, such as managed realignment, little is known of the functioning and ecosystem service provision of saltmarsh forming in sedimentation polders. This project will address this knowledge gap through an assessment of the saltmarsh developing in sedimentation polders at Brightlingsea Harbour, implemented in 2018 as part of the Using Sediment As a Resource (USAR) Project and funded by the Interreg 2 Seas Programme. Working in collaboration with colleagues from the original USAR project, this study will survey the vegetation abundance, biomass, and cover both inside and outside of the polders. Sediment samples will also be taken to assess for differences in the physicochemical properties such as bulk density, moisture content, organic content, clastic content, redox potential and carbon stock. Findings will provide a new insight into ecosystem service delivery in sedimentation polders and will be used to evaluate the appropriateness of the method as a form of saltmarsh restoration. Results will also inform the wider project, which is investigating polder design for specific ecosystem service provision and the potential for wider implementation of sedimentation polders around the UK and European coastlines.


The student will plan and participate in the field campaign. The student will then lead the subsequent laboratory analysis on the samples collected. The project will involve the following steps: Step 1: Planning and implementing the field campaign (Week 1 to Week 2). The student will conduct background research to decide on sampling locations. Vegetation surveys and sediment samples will be collected during a three-day field campaign. Step 2: Prepare samples for laboratory analysis (Week 2 to Week 3). This will involve drying, crushing, and weighing out samples for bulk sediment property (moisture content, organic content, clastic content), carbon storage and redox potential analysis. Step 3: Conduct analysis on samples and data (Week 3 to Week 6). The student will then conduct analysis, under supervision, of the biomass, sediment properties, redox sensitive elements using an Inductively Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES) and carbon storage using a Flash Carbon analyser. The student will then, with support, analyse the data.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

• Knowledge of saltmarsh and estuarine processes. • Experience with, or a willingness to quickly learn about, sampling in the field including vegetation identification and working in a laboratory environment.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

• Skills in analytical procedures, primary data collection in the field and laboratory analysis • Quantitative data management and analysis • Fieldwork skills including assessing risk and working ethically.

Place of Work

Russell Building, Whiteknights Campus

Hours of Work

Start date is not fixed. Working hours are predominantly 9 am to 5 pm, but some flexibility will be required for fieldwork days

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 03 June 2024 - Friday 19 July 2024

How to Apply

The deadline to apply for this project is 5pm on Friday 5th April 2024. To make an application, please go to the following link and complete the application form: To find this project in the application form, please filter ‘school of project applying to’ and select School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science.

Return to Placements List

Page navigation