Some of Great Britain’s most cherished seabirds just got an added layer of protection. Officials designated 12 miles along the coast of Northumberland as a Special Protection Area, according to Natural England, the U.K. government’s independent adviser on the natural environment.
The newly designated protected zone, which promises to minimize disruptions to the birds’ habitat, stretches 12 miles from the Northumberland coast to the North Sea. And it’s the top U.K. feeding ground for Arctic, Common, and Roseate Terns, as well as the #2 site for Sandwich Terns and the third-most important site for Atlantic Puffins. In all, more than 200,000 birds can breathe—and eat—a little easier now.
“This is a momentous day for a huge number of our best-loved and most charismatic seabirds, many of which have suffered population declines over recent decades,” said Natural England’s Chairman Andrew Sells in a press release. “These designations will protect vital feeding areas for seabirds along the English coast, creating safe havens to help the birds thrive for generations to come.”