– Size: 5km along the coast
– Main habitat types: coastal dwarf scrub heath, bracken and scrub-dominated areas, maritime cliff and rocky outcrops, acrid and neutral grassland, tall ruderal/tall herb fen, semi-natural broad-leaved woodland and marshy grassland. The area has many houses and other developments with agricultural land inland of the cliff tops.
The landscape Jersey’s north coast is dominated by rocky outcrops, small plateaus and steep cliffs dropping to the sea. The cliff coastline is broken up by quiet, secluded bays popular with locals and visitors alike. The vegetation on the cliff tops is predominantly bracken and gorse-dominated, invading the remaining coastal heath areas and the grassland habitats. The coastal heath areas are today very fragmented, the largest area being found at Les Platons. The coverage of the bracken and gorse has increased significantly over the last few years at the expense and general loss of the dwarf scrub heath and maritime cliff dominated communitiesleading to a loss of plant and animal species. It is believed that this has been caused by the loss of grazing as an agricultural local practise and the cessation of collection of gorse and bracken, activities that maintained the heath in good condition and prevented the natural succession towards bracken and scrub-dominated habitat. The areas of open turf and wet gullies are also at risk.
Birds and other wildlife
The cliffs provide homes for seabirds, notably gulls with herring Larus argentatus, lesser black-backed L. fuscus and great black-backed gull L. marinus all present in spring and summer. Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis, peregrine Falco peregrinus and raven Corvus corax also nest. On the heaths there are Dartford warbler Sylvia undata, common whitethroat S. communis and, where sufficient open spaces remain, meadow pipit Anthus pratensis and linnet Carduelis cannabina. Turtle dove Streptopelia turtur, stonechat Saxicola rubecula and yellowhammer Emberiza citronella all nested until recently.
Green lizards Lacerta bilineata, slow worms Anguis fragilis and common toad Bufo bufo can be found on the heath and close to the coast path while the area is good to look for red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris and bank vole Myodes glareolus.
A management target must be to increase the extent of dwarf scrub heath to its former range and to reduce or halt the spread of bracken and gorse.
Future management to consider:
- Managing bracken and gorse through manual techniques and to follow with restoration of livestock grazing. Grazing will prevent or slow down the rate of succession, reduce the fire risk and trample the bracken. Rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus can also be encouraged to use the area for grazing;
- Cutting and mowing grassland areas to maintain or increase biodiversity;
- Controlled burning of parts of heather areas in winter to help regenerate it and to reduce the risk of summer fires;
- Control of Japanese knotweed Fallopia japonica.