Conservation efforts aim to preserve the beauty of the Northumberland coast

Efforts to stamp out an invasive plant on the Northumberland coast are being stepped up.

Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 28th June 2019, 11:52 am
Efforts are being made to stamp out the pirri-pirri bur on the Northumberland coast, as shown by Coast Care project assistant Kristian Purchase.

The fight against the pirri-pirri bur is just one of the projects being tackled by Coast Care, the initiative working to protect the coast between Berwick and Amble.

The group is perhaps best known for co-ordinating regular beach cleans but of equal importance is its conservation work, including practical tasks and raising awareness of issues.

Recently, its focus was on Bamburgh, where Coast Care workers, supported by volunteers, were hard at work in the extensive duneland around the castle.

Kristian Purchase, Coast Care project assistant (training and conservation), said: “Natural England has funded the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to create an app so pirri-pirri can be surveyed, managed and controlled.

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“It’s an invasive plant which came to this country in imported wool from New Zealand in the late 19th and early 20th century.

“It established a foothold on Holy Island, in particular, but it has spread due to more people walking along the coast path, especially dog walkers. The burs sometimes get attached to the dog and the seeds disperse.

“It’s going to become more and more of an issue so whenever we find it in this area, we report it and get it removed.

“An important part of our role is also raising awareness of it so we tell our volunteers, they pass the knowledge on to their friends and so on.”

Work has also been undertaken, with the permission of Bamburgh Castle Estates, to remove sycamore saplings which are not native to the duneland ecosystem.

Coast Care has also teamed up with the Northumberland Coast AONB as part of its Accessing Aidan project, a new National Lottery Heritage Fund project which will focus on the Anglo-Saxon heritage of Bamburgh.

The project is centred on the Bamburgh Ossuary in the crypt of St Aidan's Church. The team has been cleaning, weeding and preparing the external space around the crypt for the new stairs, which will make it accessible to the public.