It is ‘crucial’ cash is found to continue protecting a nesting site for one of the UK’s rarest seabirds on the Durham coast, says a conservation body.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has warned the little terns at Crimdon remain ‘particularly vulnerable’, despite years of conservation efforts.
But a scheme to protect the smallest of the county’s tern species faces an uncertain future, with its EU funding due to dry up this year.
Susan Rendall-Read, project manager with the RSPB’s LIFE Little Tern Recovery, said: “Over the past five years the EU LIFE Little Tern Recovery Project has made a significant step forward in laying the foundations for the recovery of this endangered seabird in the UK.
“However, there’s still a lot more to do and the Crimdon Dene little tern colony remains particularly vulnerable from the risk of human interference.
“This site is one of the UK’s most important breeding grounds for little terns so it’s crucial that more funding is secured so this vulnerable nesting site can be properly protected each summer and remain a wonderful wildlife asset for this coastline.”
The Durham coast has received about £150,000 in the last five years to help with conservation efforts for the little terns.
This has included habitat restoration and protection and raising public awareness.
The cash came through the EU LIFE programme, a €3.4bn fund for environmental projects, but is due to run out this year.
And bosses at Durham County Council now need to find a new source of money to keep the scheme going.
Niall Benson, heritage coast principal officer at the county council, said: “The EU LIFE Little Tern project is a national campaign led by the RSPB to reverse the decline of little terns.
“As a local partner Durham Heritage Coast Partnership has received an average of £30,000 per year over the last five years to protect a site at Crimdon, where little terns return each summer to breed.
“This money has funded wardens to look after the site during breeding season and raise awareness of the project among visitors and residents.
“It has also paid for protective fencing and research into disturbance impacts and feeding.
“The project has come to an end, so we are actively seeking funding to cover the cost of this important work, as well as additional measures needed to enhance dune habitats and improve signage.
“There is a long history of collaborative work to protect the little terns at Crimdon, and by working with our partners, local residents and volunteers we are hopeful we can continue to protect these remarkable birds.”
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service