Conservation at Royal Birkdale, the host venue for the 2008 British Open, means that this club is not only a leading international golfing attraction. The club and its surrounding areas are also home to significant conservation initiatives.
At over 2 000 hectares, the sand dunes along the Sefton coastline are the largest dune system in the United Kingdom, with this unique resource accounting for almost 5% of the club’s grounds.
As much as 80% of the course is dedicated to nature, in the form of out-of-play areas, and the dunes provide an excellent opportunity for people to get in touch with nature. Indeed, approximately half a million people visit this coast every year.
A guide to Royal Birkdale’s flora and fauna has been produced through collaboration between various statutory and voluntary environmental and conservation agencies, in partnership with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the Royal Birkdale Golf Club.
Check out this captivating hole-by-hole guide to Royal Birkdale’s ecological biodiversity.

Conservation Initiatives

The non-native White Poplar, or “Lancashire Weed”, once threatened both the wildlife and golfing value of the course. As the natural dune habitat was lost to this scrub and woodland development, the traditional golfing links character was also reduced.
A detailed Conservation Management Plan for Royal Birkdale has been agreed and implemented in recent years. This work has once again revealed the dune ridges and restored an open landscape character, with fine views, to the course.


Royal Birkdale is part of the Southport Sand Dunes and Foreshore Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which supports a wide variety of wildlife, including rare species such as the Natterjack Toad and Sand Lizard, as well as large numbers of wintering, wading bird species.


The area also supports a variety of plant species, including rare species such as the Petalwort and the Dune Helleborine orchid. This is also the only place in England where Baltic Rush can be found.


Conservation measures put in place by golf clubs along the Sefton Coast include setting up reliable and accurate irrigation schedules, ensuring equipment is in good order at all times, only irrigating at night and limiting the area of turf being irrigated. The motto of these golf clubs is: “Every drop counts”.
Conservation at Royal Birkdale is just one way of ensuring that generations of golfers to come will be able to enjoy the natural splendour of the links courses in England’s golfing capital.
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