A new science of historical ecology is emerging, particularly in the USA and in special relation to coastal wetlands that are globally considered to be endangered habitats. The science collates data on modern habitats and merges these with information gleaned from charts, maps, photographs and other sources of historical information to produce a real picture of ecological change. Having established what has changed, reasons are sought for how and why. Such an approach allows us to understand more fully our ecological heritage and for decision makers and managers to plan better for restoration conservation so as to allow communities to recreate lost, remnant, or vestigial habitats, even ecosystems - notably, again, wetlands. This book is intended, through an examination of the history and coastal ecology of a virtually unstudied southern English Downland river, its coastal port and associated beaches, to act as a general model to determine if historical ecology can reveal protection, conservation and, possibly, restoration, priorities. At least, however, it may also help one local coastal town community to understand better its historical and ecological heritage.
It may, hopefully, also stimulate other township communities to examine their historical heritage and ecology in a new way. And, thereby, come to a new appreciation of what they have.