Helping Sefton Coast’s threatened sand dune wildlife

We are delighted to announce that the ‘Gems in the Dunes’ project has been awarded funding, as part of the successful ‘Back from the Brink’ programme led by a consortium of seven wildlife charities and Natural England. Back from the Brink is funded the Heritage Lottery Fund who are providing £4.6 million towards this ambitious programme.

Sand dunes are an important habitat for reptiles and amphibians, and the Sefton Coast sand dunes, which are England’s largest undeveloped dune system spanning the area between Southport and Liverpool, are particularly special. They are home to one of our rarest reptiles, the Merseyside race sand lizard, as well as the nationally scarce natterjack toad, and a host of rare plants, mosses and invertebrates.

Sadly, these rare species, along with the many others that depend on this fragile ecosystem for their continued survival, are being affected by changes to the dune system. These changes include the spread of invasive plants, over-fixation of dunes, and deterioration of specific habitat features such as bare sand.

Gems in the Dunes aims to help conserve these special sand dune species, and to engage local communities in their conservation. The project will help partners by providing a common framework for species recovery, setting targets for habitat management, training volunteers, and providing outreach opportunities for local communities to learn about and assist with conserving our target species.

We are delighted to be working with a range of project partners, including Natural England, Sefton Council, North Merseyside Amphibian and Reptile Group, Buglife and Plantlife. We are especially grateful to Sefton Council for hosting our project.

Gems in the Dunes is part of the nationwide Back from the Brink programme. Back from the Brink is the first nationwide coordinated effort to bring a wide range of leading charities and conservation bodies together to save threatened species. Natural England, the government’s wildlife advisory body, is working in partnership with Amphibian and Reptile Trust, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and RSPB to pool expertise, develop new ways of working and inspire people across the country to discover, value and act for threatened animals, plants and fungi.

As well as leading Gems in the Dunes, ARC will also contribute specialist input to other parts of Back from the Brink, for example to help conserve the adder – England’s most rapidly declining snake - as part of the Rockingham Forest project.

Gems in the Dunes will be starting in July 2017, and ARC will shortly be recruiting staff to run the project. We will be providing more information about this when the project starts, including how you can get involved, as there will be lots of potential for volunteers. In the meantime, you can register your interest by emailing [email protected].