A PORTISHEAD conservation group is calling on the community to make protecting salt marshes their New Year’s resolution.

The Friends of Portbury Wharf have worked with Natural England, the government's adviser for the environment, to put up new guideposts on the salt marsh asking walkers, runners, cyclists, and their dogs to stay near the sea wall embankment.

Portbury Wharf salt marsh is one of the most important habitats within the parishes of Portishead and Portbury, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which comes under the authority of Natural England.

North Somerset Times: One of the damaged mid marsh survey areasOne of the damaged mid marsh survey areas (Image: Contributed)

The marsh acts as a refuge and feeding ground for rare and migratory wading birds, hosts unique plants, and captures significant amounts of carbon, helping to fight global warming.

However, the salt marsh has been damaged by an increase in traffic since the COVID lockdowns.

With many hundreds of feet walking across it this SSSI has reached a tipping point and will only recover if those who enjoy it walk by the sea wall and not out onto the salt marsh.

To track the progress of the marsh’s recovery Natural England and the Friends have marked off several damaged areas.

Volunteers will monitor the changes over the coming months and years, recording which plants recolonise to help work out how best to protect the salt marsh.

North Somerset Times: One of the marker posts at the bottom of the sea wall asking visitors to stay to the landward sideOne of the marker posts at the bottom of the sea wall asking visitors to stay to the landward side (Image: Friends of Portbury Wharf)

A spokesperson for the group said: “The success of this project very much depends on support from the community.

“Each one of us holds the future of the salt marsh in our hands. By far the easiest way of helping the salt marsh is to keep to the landward side of the guideposts by the sea wall whenever you visit.”

“Knowing which plants grow back and how quickly will be key to the future biodiversity of the marsh and the wider area. For centuries this salt marsh has been safeguarding wildlife and burying carbon. We hope that it can be returned to its full potential under our watch".

Anyone wishing to learn more can visit the group's website or find the Friends on Facebook.