Posted on June 14, 2023
Today Aviva announces a new partnership with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) to support saltmarsh research and restoration in the UK. The work supports Aviva’s ambition to make the UK the most climate-ready large-economy by 2030.
Saltmarshes have a significant role to play in fighting climate change and reversing nature loss by providing a long-term, natural store of carbon and creating a rich and unique habitat for plants and animals specially adapted to the conditions. It is estimated that 85% of English saltmarsh has been lost in the last 200 years.
Saltmarshes also provide natural protection from flooding and coastal erosion for nearby communities, with remaining saltmarshes estimated to provide over £1 billion2 in flood resilience benefits to UK homes. A 2019 Government report identified 22,000 hectares of land around the UK coast that could be restored to saltmarsh potentially capturing over 300,000 tonnes of carbon a year3.
The partnership between Aviva and the WWT will develop best practice in saltmarsh restoration, unlocking its power to deliver multiple benefits. It will see Aviva donate £21 million to WWT to restore up to 250 hectares of saltmarsh and support new ‘on the ground’ research to help fill evidence gaps and provide a catalyst for further investment in saltmarsh creation to help combat climate change and reverse nature loss.
Claudine Blamey, Aviva’s Group Sustainability Director, said:
“Saltmarshes are precious habitats that have a significant role to play in fighting the climate emergency and improving the UK’s climate resilience. Not only do they remove carbon from the atmosphere and support biodiversity, they also deliver flood mitigation benefits for nearby communities.
“This project will help to protect more than 90,000 properties and more than £2 billion of assets. We are delighted to fund leading research that will make a genuine contribution to the wider understanding of how saltmarshes can help move Aviva and the UK towards our net zero ambitions.”
Sarah Fowler, Chief Executive of the WWT said:
“We are incredibly excited about our new transformative partnership with Aviva which aims to unlock the superpowers of wetlands to help combat the interlinked emergencies of climate change and catastrophic biodiversity loss. The project will achieve this by restoring saltmarsh, a coastal habitat which is in serious decline, with 50% lost globally over the centuries to farming and development.
“The saltmarshes which remain are beautiful places with never-ending horizons rich in wildlife. Not only do they make our hearts sing, but they also provide a natural solution to many of our most pressing problems. They help communities become more climate resilient by quickly and effectively storing carbon and absorbing flood tides They also restore wildlife, clean polluted water and boost our mood.
“This ground-breaking project will allow us to apply our wide experience of restoring wetlands to create much needed new saltmarsh, and fund research to help us understand how to maximise and replicate its full potential for existing and future generations. With the climate and nature crises showing no sign of slowing there has never been a more crucial time for this partnership, which will deliver effective natural solutions to urgent man-made problems.”
About the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
- The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is a wetland conservation charity, driven by a love of nature, that works in the UK and around the world.
- Wetlands are essential to all life, including human life. But across the world their health is under threat, and that’s damaging for wildlife, the planet, and for people.
- Healthy wetlands are one of the most nature-rich habitats on earth and they help control our climate. They store carbon, prevent flooding, reduce pollution, and the livelihoods of many communities entirely depend on them. The first civilisations grew up around wetlands, and today they remain a source of inspiration and wellbeing.
- That’s why WWT works directly to protect, restore and create healthy wetlands, and to inspire and help others to do the same.
- WWT makes change happen, through conservation projects around the world and pioneering wetland centres across the UK, where each year a million people come to engage with nature.
- Find out more at wwt.org.uk