Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Undercliffs National Nature Reserve >>> under threat?

The nearest coastal National Nature Reserve to Sidmouth is at the Axmouth to Lyme Regis Undercliffs:
Devon's National Nature Reserves - GOV.UK

They are part of the Jurassic Coast:

The Undercliffs National Nature Reserve

The Undercliffs national nature reserveLocation: Between Axemouth in East Devon and Lyme Regis in Dorset.
Landform Type: the 'undercliff' is a term used to describe the sloping section of coast between the top of the cliff and the beach. It is characterised by landslides that slowly, but continually move, giving rise to a rich mosaic of habitats.
Age: recently active from 20,000 years ago to the present day
Where to go: The Axemouth to Lymw Regis Undercliffs can only be accessed using the Saouthwest Coast Path. It is 7 mile stretch of rugged path that is difficult in places.
Look out for: Spectacular wildlife – wild woodland, nesting Peregrine Falcons and Ravens as well as various wild flowers and insects.

The torn land between the fields and the sea

The huge landslides that occur between Lyme Regis and Axemouth happen because of the geology. Chalk and sandstone above sit on clay and limestone below. The chalk and sandstone absorb water like a sponge, becoming very heavy, and move across the impermeable and slippery surface of the clay beneath. This often happens slowly, pushing rock and soil before it, causing breaks in the established paths and pushing trees over. Occasionally it happens in spectacular fashion as it did in 1839 When Goat Island was formed.
The Bindon Landslide of 1839 was a famous event at the time. One night, a huge slab of land, known locally as goat Island, moved towards the sea and a large chasm opened up behind it. The front of the landslide was lifted up out of the sea creating a small natural harbour, although this was quickly eroded away. Today, Goat Island and the chasm are two of the most noteworthy features within the Undercliffs.
The National Nature Reserve is managed by Natural England to preserve and protect the amazing wildlife that lives there.

The Undercliffs National Nature Reserve - Jurassic Coast

They are on the South West Coast Path:
Seaton to Lyme Regis Undercliffs - Part 1 - Walk - South West Coast Path

And they are under threat:
European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Daily News 05 / 05 / 2015
UK NGOs launch major campaign to defend EU biodiversity laws

This was released today from the Friends of the Earth:

Is your favourite seaside hideaway under threat?

"Oh I do like to be beside the seaside" goes the famous song. But why?
For some it'll be the bingo, the two-pence slot machines and the karaoke. Others will dig the buckets and spades and the smell of fish and chips.
But what about our coastal nature reserves? Do we still love to stroll along the cliffs, past the rockpools and through the meadows?
And does it matter that the European Commission is currently considering whether to weaken the laws which protect these nature sites?
I caught up with some friends to find out.

The Isle of Mingulay, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

"It's everything; deserted white sand beach, tropical clear blue bay where you swim among the seals, the hugest cliffs chattering with seabirds..."
Sarah Lawrence
Sarah and I went to University together. She's always loved seabirds and was chuffed to be able to study them for her thesis on the Isle of Mingulay. Located on the southern tip of the island chain of the Outer Hebrides, Mingulay and the nearby Isle of Berneray are classified as a Special Protection Area (SPA) because of their impressive and important seabird populations.

Sarah took this picture of a Northern Fulmar whilst working on the island. Mingulay is famous for hosting 2% of the UK population, with 7000-9000 nesting pairs. Not bad for an island of only 640 hectares (41 times smaller than the city of Edinburgh).

Blakeney Point National Nature Reserve, Norfolk, England.

Verity and I first met at school 14 years ago. Studying medicine in Norwich, she relishes a trip to the Norfolk coast. Who can blame her?
Blakeney Point National Nature Reserve is a four-mile-long sand and shingle spit within the Wash and North Norfolk Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
"I love it's unspoilt natural beauty... I love walking along it to see the seals and how peaceful and quiet it is."
Verity Griffiths
Over hundreds of years, sand dunes have formed on Blakeney Point, creating a rare habitat for numerous plants, insects, birds and seals. A total of 2,426 grey seal pups were born here last year, making Blakeney Point the largest colony in England.

Singing Sands, Kentra Bay, West Scotland.

Ash is a colleague at Friends of the Earth. When I asked him the question, he was quick to choose the Singing Sands of Kentra Bay on the West coast of Scotland as his favourite seaside location. Located in the Sound of Arisaig, another Special Area of Conservation (SAC), this area is recognised for its incredibly biodiverse sandbanks.
There are no ice cream vendors here. There are no deckchairs...This is a place where you can convince yourself nature has taken over."
Ash Stally-Chudasama
The singing sands take their name from the distinctive sounds they produce. The small grains of sand particles here are completely round and consistent in size. This coupled with the addition of natural silica and humidity means they make a squeak when you press down on them with bare feet.

So it seems that nature reserves really are important to us. How then do we go about ensuring they are protected?

The European Commission has launched a review of crucial European Laws, known as the Birds and Habitats Directives, that protect our favourite nature reserves. Over half a million of you responded to a public consultation earlier this summer, calling for these laws to remain.
Now we need to make sure our voices are listened to. Let's continue to tell the Commission and our own politicians how much we care about nature and how important it is that these laws are not only maintained but also better enforced to stop damage to precious sites. You can use our map to do this.

As for me...

Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales

It has to be Skomer Island. I first went to this tiny island off the coast of Pembrokeshire in 2009 and I've been back every year since. With its sister island Skokholm, Skomer is designated as a Special Protected Area (SPA) for its impressive array of avian inhabitants. The coastal habitats support a strong population of the red-billed crow, the Chough, and over half of the world population of Manx Shearwater.
And of course, how could I not mention these clowns...
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Is your favourite seaside hideaway under threat? | Friends of the Earth

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