Oil ashore and how to battle buckthorn
SOMETIMES in the never ending “Battle of the Buckthorn” you’ve just got to get mechanical.
We are very lucky on the Sefton coast to have many marvellous volunteers who tirelessly tackle smaller clumps of the insidious sea buckthorn in the frontal dunes.
This alien plant was introduced here to stop sand blow in about 1900 and has the ability to “fix” nitrogen with its roots, which in turn enriches the dune sand, to the detriment of our native flora and fauna.
Left unchecked it has a catastrophic effect on dune wildlife.
Sea buckthorn can grow remarkably quickly and can have a trunk as thick as a well-established tree, so when it comes to some areas further inland where the buckthorn hasn’t been tackled for a number of years, a pair of loppers just doesn’t cut it.
You may have noticed chainsaw experts from Sefton’s coast and countryside team have been working on mature stands of sea buckthorn beside the coast road between Ainsdale and Woodvale for the past week or so.
They have been ably abetted by members of the Natural Alternatives crew (you can find more details about this inclusion and access group for vulnerable young people and adults at http://bit. ly/1MVBjk0) as they work removing the buckthorn from an area of dune and woodland.
Burning the felled buckthorn on site clears the area, but to really get to the root of the problem (sorry), the team have hired a three-ton excavator, which can gouge out any remaining roots so that the buckthorn doesn’t simply sprout up again next spring.
This splendid machine is also coming in handy elsewhere on the coast – it allowed staff to open up a drainage channel out of the dunes and on to the beach north of Shore Road at Ainsdale too.
While blowing sand is just what a healthy dune system needs in winter, it does unfortunately mean that channels like this quickly become blocked, but the digger made short work of clearing it.
Finally, chunks of decaying palm oil have been washing up on the Sefton coast.
Sources believe that it comes from the wreck of a Maltese ship, the Kimya, which capsized 26 years ago south of Holyhead, killing 10 of its crew.
It is now feared that recent storms have disturbed the decaying palm oil blocks from this wreck.
The material forms large, yellowy, waxy lumps which are harmless to humans, but can be potentially fatal to dogs if ingested.
All dog walkers using the beach should remain vigilant and keep their pets under close control – especially around the tideline.
Tackling coastal scrub and clearing the sea buckthorn, inset above, in the Sefton dunes
Machines make the task of clearing blocked drainage channels much easier and quicker
Using a chainsaw to clear the mature buckthorn
Decaying blocks of palm oil have been washing up on the coast and pose a danger for dogs