Dr Chris Gibson gave a fascinating and enthralling talk to the Wivenhoe Society Friday 24th October 2014.

 

Fingerprints on the landscape: 29 years of conserving north-east Essex

 

 Chris first came to Essex in 1985 to take up the post of Conservation Officer for the then Nature Conservancy Council (now Natural England). He came to live in Wivenhoe for a few months, and joined the Colchester Natural History Society which was embarking on a major project to map the flora of north-east Essex. His contribution to the project resulted in the designation of the Upper Colne Marshes (Barrier Marsh, Ferry Marsh, the Marsh around Roman river and Hythe Marsh) as a Site of Special Scientific. The Colne Estuary, below the barrier, had been an SSSI for some time.

Over the next 29 years he was involved with many projects including the Barrier, Sustrans cycle path through the Upper Colne SSSI, a proposed barrage to retain high water at the Hythe (never built), Cockaynes wood at Alresford, and Colchester Roman wall.

A major project that Chris was involved with for over 15 years was enhancements to Abberton Reservoir the aim of which was to raise the water level by three metres. He was involved with securing the future of Tiptree Heath and Chalkney wood and the restoration of woodland habitats at Marks Hall.

Working with Felixstowe and Harwich ports to counter-balance their expansion led to creating additional wetlands by allowing new areas to become tidally flooded, a procedure that is now standard practice throughout Britain.

Part of the future for Chris is with Wivenhoe Watching Wildlife, fostering an appreciation and enjoyment of the natural world. All of the projects he talked about involved partnerships between statuary nature conservation bodies, local authorities, the general public and others, and he strongly believes that by working together we can all make a difference.