Natural England
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Recognition for an internationally important wildlife site between the Mersey and the Dee

Over 2,000 hectares of the Hoylake, Wallasey and Seaforth foreshores have been formally recognised as an internationally important area for wildlife following the decision to designate the area as a Special Protection Area (SPA) - in recognition of its international importance for birdlife - and as a Ramsar site, in recognition of its importance as a wetland habitat.

Following an earlier consultation led by Natural England, the formal designation of the site as an SPA and Ramsar site was confirmed by Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment on 5th July. The decision means that the area is now part of the network of European Natura 2000 conservation sites and joins the network of internationally important wetland sites recognised under the Ramsar Convention.

Located on the northwest coast of England at the mouths of the Mersey and Dee estuaries, the new Mersey Narrows and Wirral Foreshore SPA and Ramsar site is home to internationally important populations of knot, bar-tailed godwit, little gull and common tern and regularly supports over 20,000 waders and wildfowl during the winter.

Sitting next to a busy shipping channel, the site contains a varied range of wildlife habitats some of which have been generated by the surrounding industry. Sand and mudflats offer feeding grounds for waders at low tide; saltwater lagoons are exposed at different times, whilst shingle banks and manmade structures provide roosting sites at high tide. Saltmarsh and a freshwater lagoon each support their own communities of plants and animals.

Environment Minister, Richard Benyon said: “The Hoylake, Wallasey and Seaforth foreshores are important habitats for a wide range of birds. I’d like to congratulate everyone who worked so hard to ensure that the area has been given Special Protection Area and Ramsar status.”

Natural England Chair, Poul Christensen said: “Sitting side-by-side with a busy port, this is a fantastic site for wildlife, and I’m delighted that it is receiving the international recognition and protection it deserves.”

Notes to Editors:

For further information (media only) contact: Lyndon Marquis, 0300 060 4236,, out of hours 07970 098005.

About Ramsar sites

Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance, designated under the Ramsar Convention. Wetlands are defined as areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres. Ramsar sites may also incorporate riparian (banks of a stream, river, pond or watercourse) and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands.

About Special Protection Areas

A Special Protection Area (SPA) is an area of land, water or sea which has been identified as being of international importance for the breeding, feeding, wintering or the migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds found within the European Union. SPAs are European designated sites, classified under the European Wild Birds Directive which affords them enhanced protection.

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