Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Gems in the Dunes

Saving Sefton’s threatened wildlife

Sefton is home to
of the Uk's Sea Bryum
sefton is home to
of the uk's natterjacks
Sefton has
of the uk's northern dune tiger beetles

What is the habitat of Gems in the Dunes?

Sand dunes are wonderful places, but they are very fragile. The dunes of the Sefton Coast, stretching from Southport to Seaforth, form the largest undeveloped dune system in England. They are home to some real gems, including one of our rarest reptiles, the colourful Sand Lizard, and the scarce Natterjack, a charming little toad. There are also many other special plants and invertebrates, all depending on the dunes.

Why is this habitat at risk?

Sand dune systems are extremely vulnerable to a number of pressures. These include urban development, overgrowth of vegetation and frequent human disturbance. Unfortunately, many of the species that live in the dunes need very specific conditions to exist. All of this means that a significant number of species face extinction here if the dunes are lost to them.

How we’ll save Sefton's threatened wildlife

This Back from the Brink project, led by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, is determined to ensure a safe future for these creatures and plants. We will work with key partners and landowners along the Sefton Coast, to carry out various habitat management tasks. These should directly improve the quality of the habitat for Natterjacks, Sand Lizards, the impressive Northern Dune Tiger Beetle and many others.

Vital to all of this is helping the public to recognise the importance and vulnerability of the dunes. We will offer a range of activities to get them interested and involved, including monitoring, habitat management, walks, talks and a whole host more!

What we’re aiming for

By the end of the Project, we aim to ensure that people will have become as involved and passionate about the sand dunes of Sefton and the gems that live there, as we are. In this way, we hope to secure their future for future generations.

How to get involved

Can you help us by getting involved with surveys, or with management for the gems in the dunes? Find out more at our talks, walks and events.

You can get the latest news, and find out about upcoming events, by following the links below.

Project timeline

Autumn 2020

Petalwort and bryum survey season starts

Volunteer winter works underway

Data collation from 2020 summer surveys

Winter 2020/21

Final large-scale habitat management work continue

Practical volunteer tasks continue to improve the sand dune habitat

Petalwort and bryum surveys continue

Coastal change workshop for land managers

Spring 2021

Virtual events to engage with the local community, increasing knowledge and experience of the landscapes

Species survey training workshops for volunteers; natterjack toad, sand lizard and northern dune tiger beetle

Monitoring to see how the areas of improved dunes are benefitting species

Coast-wide volunteer species surveys of natterjack toad, sand lizard and northern dune tiger beetles

Summer 2021

Volunteer led species surveys continue

Project wraps up – reports, data and resources finalised and distributed

Autumn 2021

Final species survey submitted

Project contact

Fiona Sunners

Project Officer
07388 949203

Expert Days

Join ARC for one of two amazing Expert Days on the stunning Sefton Coast - the largest undeveloped dune system in England.  It's a fantastic opportunity to spend a day with a wildlife expert in their specialist field.

What to expect

  • A whole day (approximately 6 hours) accompanied by a wildlife expert.
  • Yourself and if you wish, up to 4 friends or family can join you.
  • The wildlife expert will, over the course of the day, take you out in the field to try to find the species.
  • Note: finding one of the species to observe in the wild cannot be guaranteed. However, you will spend plenty of time in the habitat and landscape that the species inhabits, with an expert who knows best how to spot them.
  • You will learn how the species is conserved, how and why it is threatened, and what is known about that species’ life history.

What you receive

  • Exclusive attention of the wildlife expert for you / your group.
  • Demonstrations of survey and conservation techniques.
  • Lunch at a local location, or picnic in the field if weather permits.
  • Goody-bag of things to take away: information about the species and the charity, and how you might be able to help further in future.

Note: we will ensure Expert Days are carried out according to the current social distancing and other safety guidelines. For further details and to discuss your particular circumstances and preferences, please email:

Marram Grass (Ammophila arenaria) growing on dune system at Ainsdale Nature Reserve, Merseyside, UK. May. Photographer: Alex Hyde

Latest news

16 July 2003

Brilliant Bryums

Read More

Get Involved

Bringing them Back From The Brink

We are working with some of the most endangered species in England. With your help we can do even more to save them.

Project lead

Delivery partners