St Abb's Head
Looking after the head
There is little that Reserve staff can do to look after seabirds on their inaccessible cliffs and rock stacks. They need to watch out for potential human disturbance, and possibly control numbers of predators if they become too high. But the biggest problem for seabirds is finding food at sea, and that can be affected by overfishing and rising sea temperatures resulting from climate change - problems that require action at the national and international, not just the local, level. Annual counts by the NTS rangers of seabirds on the cliffs, and their monitoring of egg and chick production in small, accessible study groups, are therefore vital to alert us to potential problems ahead.
Spreading the word
The best way to guard St Abb's for the future is to win friends and allies. Much staff time is therefore spent looking after visitors, to ensure they enjoy their time in the Reserve and do not inadvertently cause damage, and on a highly-regarded educational programme with local schools and visitors to the area. This links the NNR and VMR as one integrated whole, recognising, for example, that the seabirds could not survive without the rich feeding in the clear offshore waters.
Commitment of care
To maintain the diverse grasslands behind the cliffs requires careful management of grazing stock , and control of invasive species like creeping thistle and gorse. It is important to manage the footpaths so that the feet of so many visitors do not damage the rich grasslands. There is also a rich cultural heritage to look after. The Reserve boasts two scheduled Ancient Monuments: the Rampart Hall and the dual remains of St Abb's Kirk and St Ebba's Chapel, together with three listed buildings, that all need to be maintained.
Last updated on Friday 4th March 2011 at 15:11 PM. Click here to comment on this page