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Uproar as National Trust failure to manage land cause rare Arctic tern colony to desert reserve

2021 has not been a good year for the National Trust and it does not look like it is getting any better.

Following an uprising from the charity's members over the “one-sided” view of history following the publication of a controversial slavery report Chairman Tim Parker has recently stepped down.

Then the charity's moorland in the Peak District, Marsden Moor, burnt to a crisp despite the having spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money on a rewetting policy that achieved nothing. By refusing to carry out controlled winter burning of strips of heather, which maintain the right habitat for the birds and create fire breaks, their moor was left as a tinderbox which engulfed in flames the moment the first person, predicatably, lit up a portable BBQ.

The consequences of this fire likely destroyed a plethora of endangered ground nesting birds and caused severe air pollution as far away as Huddersfield.

[Marsden Moor after fire devastation]

Now, in the latest example National Trust failings, it has transpired that the charity's land management practices has led to the loss of the famous colony of Arctic Terns at Inner Farne, in Northumberland's Farne Islands. This has been blamed on a lack of vegetation management.

David Steel, a former head ranger on the island, said seeing the pictures was an "utter shock".

"Not having rangers living out there is a big factor, as a result the habitat management has been neglected. The Arctic tern colony has been managed for 50 years and that management has come to a complete standstill."

According to Birdguides news site "Breeding Arctic Terns have long been one of the most entertaining features of the Farne Islands experience, with the pugnacious adults constantly dive-bombing visitors to Inner Farne during the breeding season and dozens of nests situated alongside the main path, allowing for close views and photo opportunities.

Yet this year Inner Farne is eerily empty, with no Arctic Terns to be seen."

In order for the terns to breed, the land managers need to clear vegetation throughout the seasons to ensure there are sufficient cleared areas. But no management has now been carried out, as a result Inner Farne has become overgrown and the terns have moved on.

Across social media there has been outrage, with one enthusiastic birdwatcher describing it as a "wilful lack of management" and another saying "It's devastating to see decades of conservation efforts wasted. The damage to the islands is now at a level which will never recover."

The news comes amid growing concerns for the overall management of NT-owned seabird hot-spots along the Northumberland coast. One source told BirdGuides that ex-volunteers had left their roles as the NT's focus was shifting from wildlife protection to "selling memberships and promoting NT".


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