Winter 2003

Bringing heathland back to the Sefton Coast

English Nature and The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside are working together to secure rare dune habitat at Formby by starting a programme of work to enhance Freshfield Dune Heath.

Heathland management map English Nature has secured a management agreement (map 1) on 3.87 hectares known as the triangle (area shaded yellow). The Wildlife Trust will manage 35 hectares following acquisition from the Ministry of Defence (area shaded blue).

In the UK only the equivalent of 250 football pitches (200ha) of dune heath is left, making it one of the rarest habitats in the country. Over one quarter of the remaining dune heath is here on the Sefton Coast with the largest part being Freshfield Dune Heath, Formby.

In recognition of its important contribution to wildlife Freshfield Dune Heath has been awarded the highest conservation status. It forms part of the Sefton Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC). English Nature and The Wildlife Trust, therefore have a duty under law to protect and enhance this special habitat.

Open and colourful, dune heath provides a mosaic of purple heather, yellow flowering gorse bushes, scattered scrub and woodland. A range of specialist animals including at least 700 different types of insects, such as the spectacular day-flying emperor moth, heathland birds like linnets and whitethroats, reptiles such as sand lizards and common lizards have all been recorded.

Heathland management map2 The management proposals for the area known as the triangle (map 2) are planned this winter season. The areas shaded red will be managed as woodland. The areas shaded yellow will involve removal of scrub which is necessary to re-establish the heathland landscape and maintain its important contribution to both local and national biodiversity.

More Information Contact:
Janette Gazzard, English Nature on 01942 820364
Fiona Roberston, Wildlife Trust on 0151 920 3769