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 ArcticCommon, 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.”

Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.