Islands are an important habitat feature, providing disturbance-free nesting for ducks, waders and terns. They are particularly valuable in providing both an ecological and landscape feature in large-scale waterbodies. There is a legacy of island creation within mineral restoration schemes.
Howevever, while many do offer some ecological benefit, very often they do not fulfil their true potential. This advisory sheet aims to highlight the importance of island design and provide some simple guiding principles.
Many previously-restored sites support islands with steep banks that sit high above the maximum water level and thereby become a burden to manage, as in the below pictures. While these islands offer some ecological value, this is limited as the steep slopes restrict access for target bird species and limit opportunities for the colonisation / growth of marginal plants.
Key factors in island design: prevailing wind direction, shape and size, target species, surface preparation and type, access to the islands for management / monitoring
- Increased species diversity
- Increased breeding success through reduced predation risk
- Lower long-term management costs
5 easy principles to creating ecologically-functioning islands:
5. Follow-up Management
- Depending on the height of the island - and therefore if it is subject to annual flooding - the new islands may require regular management, at least annually, in order to maintain their breeding-bird interest. This should be considered during the design, including the practicalities of transporting appropriate equipment to the island to undertake management and the cost implications of this.
White, G.J. & Gilbert J.C. (2003) The Habitat Creation Handbook for the Minerals Industry. RSPB, Sandy.
Symes, N. & Robertson, P. (2003) A Practical Guide to the Management of Saline Lagoons. RSPB, Sandy.
The information set out within this advisory sheet in no way constitutes legal or regulatory advice and is based on circumstances and facts as they existed at the time Nature After Minerals compiled this document. Should there be a change in circumstances or facts, then this may adversely affect any recommendations, opinions or findings contained within this document