Biodiversity in the North East
The biodiversity of the North East Region is tremendously diverse.
Stretching from the Scottish border to the Tees Valley, the Region boasts a wide range of dramatic and rugged landscapes which contain a wealth of wildlife and geological features.
On the coast:
- Maritime cliffs and partly submerged sea caves are of international importance, together with underwater reefs teeming with colourful marine life.
- The Tees Estuary supports a small breeding population of common seals and the Farne Islands support one of the largest breeding populations of grey seals in the UK.
- Sand dunes and dune slacks support a number of un-common species, such as dune helleborine, and a range of important bryophytes including liverworts such as petalwort.The intertidal sandflats, mudflats and saltmarshes of Lindisfarne have internationally important populations of wintering birds.
- The offshore islands of the Farnes and Coquet are internationally important for their populations of breeding seabirds, including roseate tern.
- The Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area is recognised internationally for its wintering waterfowl and breeding little terns.
In the uplands:
- Extensive areas of heather moorland are of international importance for their populations of breeding birds, with over 80% of the English black grouse population being found here.
- Internationally important blanket and raised bogs support notable invertebrates such as the large heath butterfly and are also important for birds including raptors, grouse and waders.
- Around 80 - 90% of the UK population of yellow marsh saxifrage and the largest stand of juniper scrub in England can be found in the North Pennines.
The Regionís rivers:
- The freshwater pearl mussel survives in this Region - one of its few locations in Britain.
- The River Coquet is one of the best upland rivers in England and supports one of the highest concentrations of dippers in Britain.
- The River Tweed and its English tributaries support features of European interest such as water-crowfoot beds and otters.
- Exposed river sediments and banks on the Till support rare beetles including a number of ground beetles, Bembidion spp. and the diving beetle Hydroporus rufifrons.
- The large conifer plantations and some of the ancient semi-natural woods of the north of England are the final mainland stronghold in England for red squirrels.
- The northernmost population of the dormouse in the British Isles can be found in the North Pennines.
- Almost two-thirds of all Magnesian Limestone grassland in Britain is found in the North East Region. This supports nationally scarce plant species such as blue moor-grass and dark-red helleborine and invertebrates like the northern brown argus (known locally as the Durham argus) butterfly, which is restricted to northern England.
- A large proportion of the UKís upland hay meadows occur in the North East. These small, colourful meadows form a rare habitat linked with low-intensity pastoral agriculture in upland areas.
- Within Upper Teesdale there is an extremely special calcareous grassland type associated with outcrops of sugar limestone, which is limited to just two localities nationwide.
- The margins of the large, open fields of arable land in the coastal lowlands support a number of once common species such as brown hare, grey partridge and corn bunting.
These and many other natural treasures that local people value - such as bluebell woods and the parklands of both town and country - all require attention to ensure their survival into the future.
Further detailed information is available in A Biodiversity Audit of the North East.