Connecting for Nature

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Enhancing biodiversity and preserving views at Robin Hood’s Bay

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A community-led project got underway recently on a stretch of coastal landscape in Robin Hood’s Bay.  It aims to preserve valuable habitats and species present whilst restoring some of the open landscape qualities that have been enjoyed over many decades.

The cliff slope at Robin Hood’s Bay seen from the slipway. The area upslope of the old fence contains some high quality flower-rich grassland, latterly not managed.

A programme of habitat work began this autumn, to restore wildflower-rich grassland areas. These will attract pollinators and further diversify wildlife habitats.  This approach will enhance local community and visitor enjoyment of the area too, with more open views and a more pleasant environment to walk through, sit, picnic or play.  In time, there could also be educational benefits for both children and adults via carefully-placed interpretation boards.

Scarborough Borough Council cut selected patches with a specialist mowing machine called a ‘Spider’, designed to work safely on slopes.

The Robin Hood’s Bay project is a great example of how local environments can be improved by collaborative approaches and offers a good model for further habitat projects.

Tim Burkinshaw, SBC Ecologist.

The first phase of work took place at the end of September 2020. This was a collaborative effort involving Scarborough Borough Council (the land owner), North York Moors National Park Authority, and Whitby Naturalists’ Club together with local volunteers. An assessment of the habitats and species was followed by discussions on management interventions. These included selective cutting back of brambles from the main existing public areas, cutting and raking off a number of areas of rough grassland to encourage native flora and choosing which areas of scrub to retain.

Community volunteers, led by a National Park Ranger, raked off the cut material. Removing cuttings helps keep the fertility low, to benefit wildflowers in the sward. Covid safety guidelines in force at the time were carefully followed.

Much of the slope’s grassland was formerly managed more regularly and a good range of wildflower species is still present in the sward, identified by the Botany Recorder from Whitby Naturalist’s Club. In addition, Yellow Rattle seed, collected by the nearby Kingston Field, Fylingthorpe and Wood Vetch seed, collected from further up the coast, were scattered in a few carefully prepared areas.

Seed heads of Yellow Rattle, collected nearby were scattered to enhance diversity. Rattle seed germinates in disturbed soil. Once established it can reduce vigour of grasses, helping wildflowers to thrive.

This was the first step in what is planned to be an ongoing programme of enhanced management of this area of coastal hillside. Scarborough Council will add the annual grassland cuts to its maintenance schedule and together with the National Park, coordinate with volunteer tasks to rake off the arisings. It is hoped that this management approach will progressively improve the diversity of the wildflowers while restoring some of the open aspect of the site and views enjoyed in years gone by.

A variety of grassland species were recorded in the summer. Yarrow is a common wildflower but an indicator of grassland habitat with good potential if managed well.

Author: Tim Burkinshaw

I work in ecology and biodiversity in North Yorkshire. I'm often found outdoors snapping nature and landscapes or spotting birds. In the garden I enjoy having my hands in the earth and striving for the perfect mix of greens and browns in my compost. As a Daddy and adopter I'm used to endless questions about the world around us, and generally have an answer up my sleeve for most things. If you spot me and my hat in real life or on social media do say hello!

One thought on “Enhancing biodiversity and preserving views at Robin Hood’s Bay

  1. Pingback: Collaborative approaches | The official blog for the North York Moors National Park

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