"These groups are on the forefront of wildlife protection and reducing environmental damage."
This week on his blog our Park Ranger Craig shares what happened when he spent some time with Friends of Shoreham Beach and the importance of their work down on the seafront.
Read Craig's full blog below….
"This week I have been out with Friends of Shoreham Beach working alongside The Princes Trust, clearing invasive species from the beach.
Friends of Shoreham Beach, is a community run conservation group for the preservation of Shoreham Beach. It is run by the community for the community; the Ranger team support these groups in every way it sees fit. Be it removal of green waste, tools, physical work or helping run the group itself.
In 1992 Shoreham Beach was given the certificate of a Site of Conservation Importance and as such has been looked after by various groups to maintain this precious site. The site is precious due to it being vegetated shingle which is a rare habitat in the world and sustains rare wildlife which captivates niche species, such as Childing Pink and Nottingham Catchfly.
The work that the group does is vital in removing species that are out performing the rare vegetation. This work needs to be carried out, or these plants will no longer exist, which in turn will remove specialist insects that feed off these plants, which then leads to the predators having less food and killing these off as well. This has a huge knock on effect that can start ripples of problems affecting UK wildlife as a whole, and in very unpredictable ways.
These invasive plants do create a habitat for common wildlife, they are important to the ecosystem. However, many of these plants, such as Silver Ragwort, are garden escapees dating back to the 1890s. 130 years is not a long time for nature to adapt to allow it to be a food source in today's ecosystem. Since then Silver Ragwort has dominated the shores of the south competing against these niche plants that cannot outdo these more versatile plants, and in time have the potential to wipe out all other species. The reason they do this is because they are able to beat more fragile plants for light, food and root space.
Friends of Shoreham Beach work tirelessly to remove these alien species from other countries, which kill off the native UK plants damaging local ecosystems. These plants are trying to make the environment more like their native homes, which our UK plants and wildlife are not used to. Friends of Shoreham Beach do not only do practical removal of these plants but also monitor the movement of wildlife, track what has been gained and what is native and non-native. Their work ensures the survival of this rare habitat, preventing any further damage to the wider UK eco-structure.
It is down to Friends of Shoreham Beach and groups like them, that Adur and Worthing have so many wonderful greenspace. These groups are on the forefront of wildlife protection and reducing environmental damage. It is not just down to conservation charities to look after our world, it is up to all of us, everyone can make a difference."