Residents living close to Ballynamona Beach near Ballycotton are fuming after teens trashed their scenic area, littering it with bottles and cans.
The litter, including broken bottles, was strewn across a large area of the beach and dunes.
Apart from being a secluded and picturesque area of the East Cork coastline, the site is one of a number of locations to have special protection under the EU Birds Directive.
The delicate eco system between Ardnahinch, Shanagarry and Ballynamona is home to 11 species of endangered bird.
Both the Grey Plover and Bar Tailed Godwit, who are at risk of extinction, regularly nest here.
The gang of teens partied away, unaware of the ecological damage they were causing.
Several campfires were lit causing damage to the Marram grass, which helps protect against coastal erosion by holding the sand dunes in place.
The fire service attended the area at 18:25pm on Saturday, 15 June after receiving a call at 18:10pm.
Two tenders from Midleton dealt with the bonfire quickly, and remained on the scene for up to an hour to monitor the situation.
Ballynamona Clean Coasts, who manage the stretch of coast line say “we have an international biodiversity crises with species increasingly going extinct. 63% of Ireland’s birds are either Red or Amber listed, and Ballynamona is a vital ecosystem for 11 species of red listed birds including the Curlew of which, it is estimated, there are only 120 breeding pairs left nationally”
Group founder Proinsias O’Tuama said “There are 2 pairs of Ringed Plover nesting on the beach currently, which is very low because of the constant disturbances. In the area that was burned, you’d traditionally have Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings and Stone Chats in the high grasses there, and again these numbers are dwindling owing to disturbances and damage to habitat.”
He said ".Coastal erosion is going to feature much more with Climate Breakdown, and the Marram Grasses on the dunes act as a natural defence to hold the dune structures together. Any damage to these weakens the land bank down there.”
A similar event took place in 2017 and it took 25 Clean Coast volunteers an entire day to clean the area, eventually removing up to 25 bags of rubbish.