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What does the Fungus found on the Spartina actually mean for restoring Hoylake amenity beach?

Well the long and short of it is, nothing…

You may have read reports that there is a type of fungus (Claviceps spartinae) growing on the Spartina at Hoylake beach. A member of Hoylake Beach Community reviewed an area by the Promenade between the RNLI station and Alderley Road slipway on Sunday 21st November.

Reports have claimed the fungus will make the plant infertile and so it stops growing. Good news, you would think…but that isn’t entirely true.

This fungus invades the plants ovary which if it penetrates at the right time of seed cycle causes infertility of the seed, stopping it from reproducing.

The Spartina vascular rhizomes, if broken off they can root and grow as they are like small plant cuttings. The threat of Spartina spreading across our shores is still very real. The plants don't die, just exist with it.

Even if the Spartina does cease to spread, the grasses growing on the beach won’t stop. They are still continuing to grow and are developing into a salt marsh.

As we have published previously, sand dunes will not appear on Hoylake beach naturally, Hoylake foreshore is set to become a salt marsh.

In the meantime, the current Spartina clumps continue to grow taller and wider which will hinder access for people walking or participating in activities. And the protected wading bird that visit Hoylake will cease visiting because they like clear feeding grounds, not one hindered with large vegetation.

The only positive we can gleam from this new information, is the acknowledgement by all parties, including an ecologist who was reviewing the beach on the same day, admitted that Spartina is a problem.

The threat to residents health and well-being continues as the beach management plan is neglected.

Hoylake Beach Community are asking for a common sense approach for ALL, wildlife, nature & people. The stretch of amenity beach we would like equates to less than 1% compared to the WHOLE Wirral shoreline conservation area. There really has to be a balance of human and environmental needs - there is space for both to co-exist.

NOTE: The beach sections leading to Red Rocks, West Kirby and Meols have not been fully examined as yet for the fungus.

REFERENCE: Poole Harbour 70% of the spartina had it but some still seeded so not 100% stops seeding.

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