Clive Chatters
Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing, London
Page Count:  384
ISBN Number:  9781472933591

Saltmarsh is the fifth book in the recently started British Wildlife Collection and, like the previous four, it is well researched and well-illustrated throughout and uses a similar narrative style. It contains a wealth of information about its subject matter, focusing on the wildlife, history, development and past and future conservation of this marginal coastal habitat.

Following on from an introduction defining and describing 'saltmarsh', the bulk of the book is taken up with chapters each of which focuses on one of the estuaries around the UK, telling stories about their history and wildlife. The final third of the book focuses on the conservation of saltmarshes, including historical changes to protection and regulation which largely started in the twentieth century, a chapter about invasive and non-native species, and some discussion about current conservation issues and the creation of new saltmarsh habitat (both planned and unplanned).

The text frequently focuses on the plants which characterise saltmarshes, but the other denizens of saltmarsh are not forgotten and the wide coverage ranges from Barnacle Goose, Elk and Auroch to Shrill Carder Bee and Tadpole Shrimp. As was the case with the previous volumes in the series, almost all readers are likely to discover interesting facts they weren't aware of: in my case one of the most interesting chapters was about inland saltmarsh-like habitats in counties such as Oxfordshire and Staffordshire, existing thanks to the presence of salt-bearing rocks.

The book is interesting to read and will be enjoyed by those who enjoyed the previous volumes and/or have an interest in this particular habitat.

Ian Woodward