New puffin-rescue plan

The willow puffin sculpture at Plemont Picture: JON GUEGAN. (33873470)

A NEW campaign to save Jersey’s puffins has been launched on the back of a feature on the bird’s plight during last night’s episode of Countryfile.

The National Trust for Jersey and Birds on the Edge are seeking to raise funds to create a seabird reserve. This would involve putting up a predator-exclusion fence along the cliffs below the footpath between the Lecq Clay Shooting Range and the Plémont headland to protect puffins, their eggs and chicks from predators such as rats and ferrets.

In the early 20th century there were more than 200 pairs of puffins in the Island, but they are now on the brink of local extinction with just four pairs remaining.

The launch of the campaign comes after five years of ecological research and independent consultations which found that a purpose-built fence to keep predators out of the area was the only viable option to protect the puffin population and allow it to recover to more sustainable levels.

The zone will also include a programme to relocate the predators from inside the fenced area and a bracken-management programme aimed at restoring coastal grasslands. Long-term monitoring of the fauna and flora of the reserve will complement the positive effects of the fence on the nature of the area.

Cris Sellarés, project officer for Birds on the Edge, said: ‘We can no longer take it for granted that this colourful seabird which plays such an important part in Jersey’s natural heritage will keep returning to our shores; we must play our part to protect it now before it is too late.

‘We believe the reserve will benefit not only the natural environment but will bring other benefits to the Island’s community by providing employment for local companies, back-to-work schemes, volunteering opportunities, apprenticeships and education. It has the potential to become a tourism asset and to have positive effects on wellbeing and mental health by enhancing our connection with nature.’

A public consultation has begun prior to a planning application for the installation of the fence with Islanders being encouraged to share feedback or concerns via email, an opinion survey on the website, or at one of a series of drop-in sessions.

The drop-in sessions are being held at Santander Work Café, Charing Cross, on Thursday 28 July and Thursday 4 August between 11am and 2pm, and at St Ouen’s Parish Hall on Friday 12 August at 7pm and Saturday 13 August at 11am.

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