Freshfield Dune Heath is the only area of dune heath on the Sefton coast and as such is an important habitat. Like many of the coastal sites, it suffers with an ever increasing amount of vegetation, in particular on this site the problem is gorse. In excess, the gorse shades out large areas of the heath, making it unsuitable for animals such as the sand lizard.

Working with our partners at Lancashire Wildlife Trust (LWT) and with a local contractor, we have removed large areas of gorse and scrub to create open sand patches as part of the Gems in the Dunes project, one of nineteen projects making up the Back from the Brink programme. These open sandy patches will provide areas for basking, hunting and egg laying for a variety of species not just the lizards.  Management of the dune heath is vital and sheep play an important role here. Across the site, they graze on the vegetation including gorse when it is young and tender, therefore helping to maintain a more open site, which also favours the heather, a natural feature of the site. As part of the grazing management fences have been installed around the newly cleared areas to restrict access by the sheep at certain times of year and protect the other species.

Freshfield Dune Heath before

Freshfield Dune Heath after

As part of the project we are looking forward to getting out on site in the future to carry out species surveys and working with our Gems in the Dunes volunteers as well as the LWT volunteers to help improve the site further.