Since the rabbit population was decimated in the
1950s by the introduction of a disease called myxomatosis, tall
woody plants have become widely established on the dunes. Plants
- Birch Betula spp
- Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna
invaded naturally. A number of species, however,
were introduced to the Sefton Coast dunes by people and have since
become very widespread; these include
- White Poplar Populus alba Balm of Gilead Populus candicans
- Sea Buckthorn Hippophae rhamnoides.
In addition, pines from the plantations seed into
the open dunes. See page on pine plantations.Scrub is a natural successional development from semi-fixed and fixed
dunes in the absence of grazing.
The scrub species totally dominate the vegetation,
which as a consequence tends to be species-poor. A thick, brown
soil organic layer develops under the scrub. In the absence of grazing,
there has been an explosion of the area of scrub on the Sefton Coast
with a loss of the typical dune plants and animals. Management has
been clearing the scrub and introducing grazing whereever possible
to restore and maintain the open dunes.