New coastal ranger service launched in Northumberland
A new coastal wildlife ranger service has been launched by Northumberland County Council.
Space for Shorebirds has been designed to help safeguard important shorebird populations and conserve the beautiful flower-rich dune grasslands which are under ever-increasing pressure from recreational activities such as walking and dog walking.
The service will also be tackling a prickly problem in the dunes - a non-native species called pirri-pirri bur that can displace important dune plants and also make a nuisance of itself as its remarkably sticky seedheads become embedded in people’s clothing and dogs' fur.
Space for Shorebirds is being funded by contributions that housebuilders and new tourism developments make through the planning system.
Cllr John Riddle, cabinet member for planning, housing and resilience at Northumberland County Council, said: “The council is committed to providing the homes that people need and enabling the tourism industry to thrive, with the much-needed jobs that this provides.
“However, we are also determined to protect the wonderful wildlife that we are so lucky to have in Northumberland.
"Balancing these important objectives is not easy, and Space for Shorebirds offers an exciting and innovative approach to this. I very much look forward to seeing how this project develops over the coming years.”
Richard Willis, senior wildlife ranger in the Space for Shorebirds service, added: “Almost all of our wintering shorebirds such as turnstone and purple sandpiper migrate thousands of miles to the high arctic to breed.
"However they spend the rest of the year here with us on the Northumberland coast, so we have a special responsibility to make sure that they can feed and rest without being disturbed.
“Even though they are amazingly hardy they are vulnerable because they are so dependent on this narrow ribbon of shore where they find their food, and our wildlife rangers will be asking everyone using the coast to simply look out for wildlife and give birds such as the purple sandpiper plenty of space to thrive.
“I’m very keen that the wildlife rangers at Space for Shorebirds are part of the coastal community, so if you see us out and about please stop and tell us about the wildlife you’ve seen along the coast.”