Cul­ti­vate habi­tats – it’s vi­tal to na­ture’s sur­vival

Midweek Visiter - - The Sefton Coast -

THE great out­doors could be de­scribed in many ways, but on some lev­els, “con­sis­tency” is per­haps not a qual­ity that you could as­cribe to it.

Some habi­tats are tem­po­rary, with a nat­u­ral in­cli­na­tion to change, oth­ers can form an an­cient and pro­duc­tive land­scape if left to de­velop.

The trick is know­ing which ones are which, and what needs to be done to man­age them.

So while vol­un­teers gear up for an­other win­ter of cut­ting back Sea Buck­thorn scrub on the Sefton coast, keep­ing dune ar­eas open and at­trac­tive for key species, not too far away an ex­cit­ing scheme is be­ing pur­sued to en­cour­age young­sters to cre­ate new wood­land.

Two sides of the con­ser­va­tion coin in the same bor­ough.

Vol­un­teers like Phil Smith and his team of “buck­thorn bash­ers” meet reg­u­larly to con­trol the Sea Buck­thorn with lop­pers and are al­ways happy to wel­come new mem­bers to the fold.

Phil and co were out for the first time last week, cut­ting back Sea Buck­thorn at Ains­dale. For more dates when they head out, check for up­dates on the www.face­book.com/ greensefton page and the @ GreenSefton_ twit­ter feed.

In the frontal dunes from Hall Road to South­port, con­trol of scrub is vi­tal if this tran­sient dune habi­tat is to sur­vive – if scrub is left to de­velop nat­u­rally, open sand is quickly shaded out and turns to soil, mak­ing the place unattrac­tive for ev­ery­thing from Nat­ter­jack Toads to Dune Pan­sies.

How­ever, a rel­a­tively short dis­tance away the Trees for Learn­ing pro­gramme, co-or­di­nated by The Mersey For­est team, seeks to en­cour­age young­sters to plant na­tive and or­chard tree species in Sefton as part of a wider pro­gramme, but cru­cially away from the coastal strip.

The Mersey For­est, is work­ing to­gether with Sefton Coun­cil’s Green Sefton team and other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to hit the tar­get of help­ing pri­mary schools to plant thou­sands of trees, so en­hanc­ing our green spa­ces and pro­vide spa­ces for out­door learn­ing.

Trees for Learn­ing forms part of the De­part­ment for En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs (DEFRA) pledge to sup­port schools to plant one mil­lion trees na­tion­ally by 2020.

Green Sefton is look­ing at sites suit­able for wood­land plant­ing for some of our pri­mary chil­dren as part of the pro­ject.

Jo Say­ers, the Mersey For­est’s Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer and pro­ject man­ager and na­tional co-or­di­na­tor for DEFRA One Mil­lion Trees, is work­ing on the pro­ject.

“Teach­ers and teach­ing as­sis­tants tak­ing part in the schemes across the Mersey For­est area are find­ing that pupils re­ally thrive in an out­door learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” Jo ex­plained.

“This adds to the grow­ing body of ev­i­dence to sup­port the im­por­tance of schools al­low­ing chil­dren time to con­nect with na­ture and have ac­cess to an out­door class­room in their school grounds or in their com­mu­nity”.

The pro­ject has com­pleted two of the planned four years with some 35,000 trees planted so far.

For more de­tails con­tact the Mersey For­est on 01925 816217 or email jo.say­ers@mersey­for­est.org.uk

Ap­prox­i­mately 60,000 trees are to be planted in The Mersey For­est area over the pro­ject.

Phil Smith and his vol­un­teer “buck­thorn bash­ers”

Trees for Learn­ing al­lows chil­dren to en­gage with na­ture

Pic­tures by JOHN DEMPSEY

Rowan – a na­tive tree in Bri­tain, but the berries would be toxic if taken in large amounts

Sea Buck­thorn can have a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on the dune sys­tem

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