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Coastal agricultural landscapes: Mapping and understanding grazing intensity on Welsh saltmarshes

McKinley, E. ORCID:, Harvey, R., Ballinger, R.C. ORCID:, Davidson, K., Griffin, J.N. and Skov, M.W. 2022. Coastal agricultural landscapes: Mapping and understanding grazing intensity on Welsh saltmarshes. Ocean & Coastal Management 222 , 106128. 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2022.106128

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Coastal wetlands such as saltmarshes support local communities and industries through ecosystem services and benefit the well-being of local communities in many regions of the world. Along sheltered temperate and sub-tropical coastlines, saltmarshes provide coastal protection, provision of recreational space and wildlife habitat. Those in northwest Europe provide a valuable resource for local agricultural communities through livestock grazing. Following the departure of the UK from the EU and the related potential changes to agricultural policies and markets, it is timely to evaluate the status of saltmarsh livestock grazing. In particular, knowledge of grazing patterns, policy futures and stakeholder perceptions are required to support traditional cultural practice and the ecological status of saltmarshes. This study focuses on the devolved UK nation of Wales, as it has a strong traditional agricultural and pastoral economy, and a landscape of significant conservation value. Yet there are substantial evidence and knowledge gaps regarding livestock grazing and its saltmarsh impact. We present the first map showing the spatial distribution of saltmarsh grazing practice in the UK. Drawing on insights gathered through an expert workshop and interviews with saltmarsh landowners and managers across Wales (N = 35), the paper discusses the challenges and benefits of coastal grazing on saltmarshes, highlighting the diverse values, personal connection and sense of identity associated with marshes. Interviews reveal deep rooted social and cultural values attributed to saltmarshes by the rural coastal community. The study illustrates the need for an integrated approach to management of saltmarshes, accounting for the social, cultural, economic, and environmental values within decision-making.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0964-5691
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 March 2022
Date of Acceptance: 3 March 2022
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2023 09:04

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