The freshwater and intertidal habitats of Kent and Medway represent a tiny proportion of their former extent, with many lost through factors such as agricultural intensification and drainage, and degraded through abstraction and pollution. They are also particularly sensitive to climate change impacts and recreational pressures and disturbance (this latter pressure is addressed under Connecting people with the natural environment). We need to secure the long-term sustainable management of these fragile ecosystems by rebuilding and developing ecological networks that are sustainable, ecologically coherent and resilient to climate change.

To do this, we will need to ensure that we replace like for like habitat lost to coastal realignment and make innovative use of natural flood and drought management solutions. Only then can we also ensure that these habitats are able to support vital ecosystem services such as carbon storage, groundwater recharge and flood control.

Our objectives for freshwater and intertidal ecosystems, habitats and species are, by 2045:

  • 75% freshwater SSSIs restored to favourable condition, securing their wildlife value for the long term.
  • Over half of Local Wildlife Sites in good management, securing their local wildlife value for the long term.
  • Reaching or exceeding objectives for rivers, lakes, coastal and ground waters that are specially protected, whether for biodiversity or drinking water as per our River Basin Management Plans.
  • No deterioration in the status of any water body in Kent. If deterioration of any element’s classified status occurs, actions will be implemented to reverse the decline.
  • Improve 375 km (15 km per year) of waters in Kent (rivers, lakes, canals, groundwater, transitional and coastal waters). The enhancements include work to improve ecological, chemical and/or physical quality, e.g. reducing pollution, restoring flows and improving habitat.

Show more about Freshwater and intertidal ecosystems, habitats and species

Priority habitats

Vegetated shingle Dungeness

Vegetated shingle

2025 target

Maintain total extent of coastal vegetated shingle habitat; ensure no net loss; and restore all coastal vegetated shingle…

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Wet woodland

Wet woodland

2025 target

Creation of 10 ha of wet woodland.

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Sunset over the waders, Winter afternoon at Oare KWT reserve

Intertidal mudflats and coastal saltmarsh

2025 target

Create 50 ha of net gain for both habitats combined.

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Pond and egret by car park, lovely summer evening, Elmley NNR


2025 target

By 2021, 322 additional ponds with a total area of 161,000 m²

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The little bourne chalk stream at Wickhambreaux, Kent

Chalk streams

2025 target

Raise the profile and prioritise the restoration of this globally rare freshwater habitat  

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Maria - Great Stour near Grove Ferry


2025 target

Improve 105 km of waterways (15 km per year x 7 years)

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Priority species

True Fox-sedge

True Fox-sedge (Carex vulpine)

2025 target

Update monitoring data for this species, with a view to verifying any decline and what management action might…

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Water Vole

Water Vole

2025 target

To retain water vole populations on all known sites and demonstrate progress in assessing county-specific status through encouraging…

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Sandwich Tern, Coquet Island, Northumberland

Sandwich tern

2025 target

To retain the colony of 300 to 500 pairs in the Medway Estuary in the short-term and to…

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Lapwing relaxed, whole frame, Elmley NNR March 2017


2025 target

> 1,000 pairs of breeding lapwing populations.

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European Eel

European Eel

2025 target

Demonstrable progress to silver eel escapement targets in all catchments that we influence; secure access for eel to…

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