Using geo-locating devices such as smartphones, geo-tagging photo-cameras and GPS devices we will assist amateur biologist and gardener Paul Huxster studying Eelgrass and Cordgrass spatial fluctuations across Leigh’s tidelands. Local micro and macro biodiversity depends of these two plant species.
In the 19th century various Cordgrass species were introduced to the tidelands of Two Tree Island, as a low-end land reclamation experiment to expand Old Leigh's public land for grazing sheep. It proved a resounding failure for the positivist minds of land speculation. Today Cordgrass is an attractive nutrient for invasive grazers as they migrate toward the Estuary’s warming waters. And both Cordgrass and grazing animals are steadily establishing in the area. However, siltation processes are also altering the local environment, and as sea temperature rises, Eelgrass species are being pushed from Essex shorelines northwards, affecting in turn many other the breeding, feeding and migration of other species.
Images will be compiled using the hashtag: #mudwalkingleight. An interactive map and extensive documentation will be produced to help Paul Huxster to track this complex yet contentious process in which science oughtn’t have the only say. We want to reflect upon what constitutes native or non-native ecology and what defines novel versus historical ecosystems in an age in which human activity constitutes the main force driving ecosystems’ change. And, above all, contemplate the cultural systems we use to value them.
The tide on the day will be early, so we need to start walking by 9am. Participants should bear on mind that the event is demanding physically; appropriate gear (listed below) is essential, especially tight wellies and a strong stick for walking. It will take about 2-2.5 hours to walk the mud, then after little rest and light refreshment, participants will get a chance to add their data, images and observations to online maps produced on the day or produce their own map.
To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing and rainwear, tight-fitting wellies and strong walking stick (boots and stick are critical for walking on the estuary). Smartphones or GPS devices are welcome but please bring a plastic bag to keep the dry.