caroline legg (CC BY 2.0)
British Wildlife 28.2 December 2016

Dredged sediment – still an under-used conservation resource

Every year in the UK, large quantities of sediment are dredged to maintain access to our ports and harbours. Although much of this dredged sediment could be used to protect and enhance our coastal habitats, the great majority is deposited away from our coasts. The authors describe some examples of the use of dredgings to create valuable coastal habitats, and what needs to be done to encourage more such use.

The process of regularly dredging sediment from the berths and navigation chanels of our ports and harbours is economically vital to this country. In the UK, an estimated 40-50 million cubic metres of material is dredged annually. The majority of these dredgings are deposited at sea, with no more than 1% used to restore or create valuable coastal habitats (Bolam & Whomersley 2005; MMO 2014).


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