Rangers’ warning over fire threat to coastal wildlife

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

PROTECTED species on Flintshire’s coastlines could be under threat from deadly fires.

Coastal rangers are urging members of the public not to start fires on the beaches in Talacre and Gronant amid fears that the natural habitats of protected creatures such as the natterjack toad and the sand lizard could be destroyed.

The calls come after two recent fires in the dunes at Presthaven Sands.

Flintshire’s coastal ranger Mandy Cartwright said: “Due to the dry spring we’ve encountered this year, the important vegetation that knits the sand dune community together has become increasingly susceptible to fire, and, once alight, it can spread very quickly.

“It is extremely dangerous as it spreads at speed and, dependent on wind direction, a fire could easily spread to the holiday park itself. Such fires are not only dangerous to people but they could also potentially wipe out species such as the sand lizard, which was re-introduced eight years ago.

“They are a European protected species and we are very lucky to have them here at Presthaven Sands.”

Talacre Warren has been hailed a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) due to its sand dune habitat and the species that occupy it as well as the marram grass that knits the sand dunes system together and provides a natural sea defence.

Barbecues, discarded cigarettes, Chinese lanterns, broken glass and even arsonists are the primary cause of fires on the beaches.

Miss Cartwright is urging visitors and residents to act responsibly.

She said: “We work so hard all year round to preserve and protect our fantastic habitats, which could all be lost due to a single fire.

“Through access, interpretation and presence on site we have our work cut out promoting sensible and responsible behaviour.

“Chinese lanterns have become increasingly popular over the last few years and can be very harmful to the countryside causing fires in particularly vulnerable areas, such as the marram grass covered sand dunes, and creating litter, which can lead to the death of any animal that may eat the debris that falls to the ground.”

Anyone with information about deliberate fires should call North Wales Police on 101.

l COASTAL rangers are on the lookout for volunteers to help clear up Flintshire’s coastline.

Helpers are always needed to pick up litter on the beaches and in the dunes. For more details email Mandy Cartwright on ranger.presthaven@bourne-leisure.co.uk.

See full story in the Leader

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