Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Good News for Coastal Landscape

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Good News for Coastal Landscape

Article excerpt

Byline: By Anna Lognonne

Ecologically important sand dunes on Northumberland's spectacular Heritage Coast and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are being protected thanks to a conservation partnership between local farmers and Defra.

John Whiteford, of Borewell Farm, Cocklawburn, who has won a string of awards for his entrepreneurship in tourism, is the latest farmer to help preserve the region's renowned coastal landscape by signing up to Defra's Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

Joining farmers Simon Cadzow, Robert Reed and James Frater, Mr Whiteford's stewardship agreement is the final piece in a significant coastal jigsaw which brings four and a half miles of coastline - including all the dunes between Berwick and the Holy Island Crossing - under the management of Countryside Stewardship for the benefit of the dunes' delicate ecosystem.

Partnership has been a key element of the new agreements, involving English Nature, Northumberland County Council, landlords Greenwich Hospital and the Cheswick Estate as well as the farmers. The exceptional dune flora, which includes bloody cranesbill, viper's bugloss and purple milk vetch, will be encouraged at Borewell through controlled grazing by John Whiteford's herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle.

In turn the flora attracts butterflies including the grayling, one of the rarest butterflies in the region, and the dark green fritillary, both listed on Butterfly Conservation's Regional Action Plan for the North- East. The coast provides a rich habitat for migratory and breeding sea birds, including common scoter and eider. Changes under stewardship will also benefit vulnerable farmland species, including the tree sparrow and corn bunting, both of which are on the RSPB's red list of birds of conservation concern.

John Whiteford's agreement will help protect archaeological features, including historic limekilns which once played an important part in the region's way of life, and will open up new areas of access for the public, complementing existing rights of way and creating a new circular walk. …

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