A stretch of the island’s east coast has been designated as an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) to protect important habitats and their birdlife.

Numerous species including peregrine falcons, raven, chough and fulmar use the steep rocky cliffs and diverse coastal grassland, heath and scrub in the area of Marine Drive.

In total, the new ASSI covers around 82 hectares and runs for around three miles between Douglas Head lighthouse and Port Soderick.

It is the 23rd ASSI to be designated on the island, with other areas including carbon storing upland peat, woodlands and sand dunes - each contributing to the conservation of the island’s most valuable natural resources by protecting its wildlife and geological features.

Each also plays an important role in the island’s UNESCO Biosphere status.

The Marine Drive section has been added following a three-month consultation where stakeholders expressed their views.

Geoffrey Boot, minister for the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: ’We are happy to confirm Marine Drive as our newest ASSI - offering greater protection to this biodiverse stretch of coastline, its rich habitat, and our Biosphere.

’The best way of protecting our plants and animals is to protect the land, the freshwater and the seas where they live.

’The Department will continue to work hard so that the island’s most important areas are protected and managed to form a network of natural areas that are capable of supporting our plants, animals and geological heritage into the future.’

The new ASSI includes areas of privately owned land as well as land owned by Manx National Heritage and the DoI.