United Kingdom designates Merseyside coastal site

United Kingdom designates Merseyside coastal site

23 April 2014
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The United Kingdom has designated as a Ramsar Site The Mersey Narrows and North Wirral Foreshore (2,078 ha; 53°25'N 03°11ʹW), on the Irish Sea coast of north-west England at the mouths of the Mersey and Dee estuaries. As summarized by Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Europe Ms. Laura Máiz-Tomé, the Site comprises large areas of saltmarsh and extensive intertidal sand and mud flats, with limited areas of brackish marsh, rocky shoreline and boulder clay cliffs, along a rural and industrial stretch of coast.

The intertidal flats are internationally important feeding grounds for waders: the site regularly supports more than 20,000 waterbirds, including 2.4% of the Calidris canutus islandica population and 2.8% of the Limosa lapponica population. The wetland provides ecosystem services including shoreline stabilisation and dissipation of erosive forces, sediment trapping and water supply.

The potential threats to its ecological character derive from increasing recreational activities and social and economic pressures to return the foreshore back to sandy beaches, and sedimentation of the foreshore which reduces the available low-tide feeding habitat and causes vegetation succession. The adjacent land is dedicated to agriculture and urban development as well as nature conservation and scientific research and monitoring. Recreational activities include bird watching, walking, fishing, sailing, canoeing, cycling and kite surfing, all carried out at intensive levels. There is a visitor centre at Seaforth Nature Reserve.