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Benfleet and Southend Marshes facts for kids

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Benfleet and Southend Marshes
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Estuarial mudflats at Leigh-on-Sea - - 778899.jpg
Area of Search Essex
Interest Biological
Area 2099.7 hectares
Notification 1987
Location map Magic Map
Official name: Benfleet & Southend Marshes
Designated: 14 February 1994
Reference #: 648

Benfleet and Southend Marshes is an 8.1-square-mile (21 km2) Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Essex. It consists of mudflats, salt marshes, scrub and wild grassland, and includes the Southend-on-Sea foreshore. It has been so recognised for its biological (including ecological) value, rather than geological. A definition five percent larger forms the Benfleet and Southend Marshes Ramsar site and Special Protection Area. In the centre-west, more than ten percent of the Site is the Leigh National Nature Reserve (NNR), which has been appraised in detail in A Nature Conservation Review as a site of national importance. The SSSI and NNR include the eastern half of Two Tree Island, in Leigh on Sea which is managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust. A narrow majority of the Site is the Southend on Sea Foreshore Local Nature Reserve.

The marshes and mudflats have internationally important numbers of wildfowl and wading birds, including the dark-bellied brent goose, grey plover, redshank and red knot. Scarce invertebrates, such as the white-letter hairstreak and marbled white butterfly, have adapted to specific habitats in the marshes.

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