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Jurby Airfield Site Protected 9 August 2004

The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry has designated the Jurby Airfield as an Area of Special Scientific Interest. This status is given in recognition of the site's importance for breeding skylarks and semi-improved lowland grassland cut for hay. A corncrake with chicks was seen at the site in July 2002. The Corncrake is the most endangered bird which breeds on the Island and this type of grassland is its ideal habitat.

The purpose of the designation is two-fold: firstly to inform everyone that this is an important place for wildlife and secondly, through provisions of the Wildlife Act to manage the activities on the site in a way that benefits wildlife. The current management by late hay cutting is ideal for ground nesting birds.

DAFF Minister Bill Henderson, MHK said:

"There is an increased awareness of our Island's natural treasures, and this is reflected in this Department's emerging policies for wildlife and the countryside. The conservation of skylarks and the wildflower-rich grassland are compatible with the great majority of current sporting activities at the airfield. After all the wildlife interest has been maintained while these sports have continued.

"The Department is establishing a constructive partnership with the event organisers and other interested parties such as the DTI who wish to establish some industrial units in the area. Conservation is about working together for the mutual benefit of the Island. There will be extensive consultation with interested parties."

This is the third ASSI to be designated. The ASSI designation is primary a means of giving statutory protection to the most important areas of habitat on the Island. DAFF has been undertaking ecological survey and writing criteria for ASSI selection to ensure their selection is based on sound ecological knowledge and principles. The consultation period is until November before which any issues relating to the basis for designation may be raised.

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