Oil ashore and how to bat­tle buck­thorn

Midweek Visiter - - News -

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

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