Burn­ing is sure sign that win­ter chal­lenges arise

Midweek Visiter - - The Sefton Coast -

THE plume of smoke ris­ing above the scrub and the un­mis­tak­able smell of burn­ing Sea Buck­thorn is a sure sign of win­ter works start­ing on the dunes.

While our bril­liant vol­un­teers bat­tle younger ar­eas of scrub armed with lop­pers and bow saws, in cer­tain ar­eas larger machin­ery is needed.

Any­one us­ing the Coastal Road south of Shore Road, Ains­dale, in re­cent weeks can’t fail to have no­ticed the on­go­ing work to clear scrub on the dunes on the in­land side of the road.

Here dense scrub has cloaked the rear dunes for too long – as reg­u­lar read­ers know, Sea Buck­thorn shrouds these ar­eas all too quickly – and the pic­tures with this week’s col­umn, cour­tesy of Green Sefton’s Paul Lowry, in­di­cate just how in­va­sive it is.

Once these ar­eas have been cleared it will be in­ter­est­ing to see which species move back in. The seed­bank of many dune plants hope­fully re­mains in­tact be­neath the layer of en­riched earth on the sur­face.

Once the scrub is cleared and the ground is ex­posed the flora may reap­pear.

This area of the Ains­dale and Birk­dale Lo­cal Na­ture Re­serve is not the only place where the team will be tack­ling scrub this win­ter. Look out for works at Birk­dale in the rear and frontal dunes over the shorter days of the com­ing sea­son.

The Gems In The Dunes lot­tery-funded project will also be car­ry­ing out habi­tat im­prove­ment works at the Queen’s Ju­bilee Na­ture Trail nearer to South­port.

A bit closer to the briny and fur­ther south in the bor­ough, visi­tors to the seafront at Hall Road/Blun­dell­sands may have stopped to pon­der over the ar­rival of what ap­pears to be a climb­ing frame close to the RNLI base.

This is ac­tu­ally the frame for a fas­ci­nat­ing project called Wire­wall, be­ing run by the Na­tional Oceano­graphic Cen­tre, out of its Liver­pool of­fice.

The aim is to mea­sure “over­top­ping” of waves and col­lect this data, so that in fu­ture those charged with coastal de­fence can have a clearer idea of what sea­walls like the prom­e­nade at Crosby need to be able to han­dle.

The sys­tem em­ploys a three-di­men­sional grid of wires that sense con­tact with salt­wa­ter.

This sig­nal is used to mea­sure the vol­ume and speed of over­top­ping waves on the 900-me­tre long sea­wall at Crosby.

Data gath­ered by the project will go to­wards in­form­ing any re­designs of the sea­wall in the fu­ture, as the struc­ture ap­proaches the end of its “de­sign life”.

Felled Sea Buck­thorn is burnt on site on Ains­dale’s rear dunes

Pic­tures by PAUL LOWRY

The frame for the Wire­wall project at Hall Road, Crosby

Left and above, some Sea Buck­thorn is cleared with chain­saws on site

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