Threatened sand dunes set
for a golden future thanks to National Lottery funding
A 3rd of England and
Wales's threatened sand dunes have a brighter future thanks to a pioneering
National Lottery funded conservation and restoration project. Sand dunes are
listed as the habitat most at risk in Europe. They are a sanctuary for
endangered plants and animals like the dune gentian and sand lizard. However,
many are being smothered and fixed by a tide of invasive scrub, becoming
sterile, grassy hillocks.
Now the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has given initial support for a ₤4.1m grant
to an innovative 4 year partnership project, Dynamic Dunescapes, which will
restore some of the most important sand dune landscapes in England and Wales.
Natural England, National Trust, Plantlife, The Wildlife Trusts and Natural
Resources Wales will work with local coastal communities to conserve and restore
up to 7000ha in 9 areas across England and Wales.
Sand dunes are a naturally dynamic habitat. As the coastal winds blow, new
'embryo' dunes are formed at the top of the beach and they slowly grow and shift to
create the landscapes we know. The early stages of the project will explore how
to re-establish the natural movement within dunes, to create the conditions that
some of our rarest wildlife relies upon.
Natural England's Chairman, Andrew Sells, said:- "We're really excited
about this fantastic project to save our dunes and give more people the
opportunity to learn about our fascinating wildlife. Dunes are not only a
backdrop to a day at the seaside; they are home to some of our rarest species
and are in desperate need of help. That's why we're working with our partners
from across the conservation movement; spanning two countries; to tackle this
The project will concentrate on improving the condition of 9 identified dune
cluster sites at:- Lincolnshire Sand Hills; Studland Dunes, Dorset; North
Cornwall Coast; Braunton Burrows; North Devon Coast; Swansea/Neath Port Talbot;
Carmarthen; Anglesey/Gwynedd; Sefton Coast; and Cumbrian Coast/Solway.
The projects will include:-
► Conservation work to re-establish
► A programme of removal of native and non-native invasive species.
► Restoration and creation of dune slacks and dune wetlands.
► Turf stripping and sand scraping to create bare sand patches.
► On site interpretation and a national promotion programme.
► Community education activity, including a schools programme.
► A programme of adult and youth volunteering.
Drew Bennellick, Head of
Landscapes and Natural Heritage at HLF, said:- "This is a really exciting
project as it is pioneering a new approach to dune management. In recent decades
many sand dunes have become smothered by thick vegetation. We now know that this
is bad news for some of the rare species that make their homes among our dunes
and need a mixture of open sand, pools of water and varied vegetation to thrive.
Thanks to this National Lottery funding and the expertise of the partnership
organisations, we can begin to find ways of addressing these pressing issues."
Hugely popular among beachgoers, there are 200m visits a year to sand dunes in
England and Wales. Less well known is their role as a sanctuary for endangered
plants and animals. Species that make their home in the dune landscape include:-
► Colourful flowers like purple milk
vetch and dune gentian.
► Invertebrates such as the spectacular silver studded blue butterfly and snail
► Mosses and liverworts (with the diminutive petal wort found only in dune
► Reptiles and amphibians such as natterjack toads, sand lizards and great crested
Dunes have a long place in the
cultural history of the United Kingdom. These special places include prehistoric
sites around the coast and medieval religious settlements. Sand dunes are
popular destinations for seaside recreation, from sand castle building to
surfing. The England Coast Path will open in its entirety by 2020. This will
allow more people than ever to access the sand dunes along our shores. This
project will ensure those visitors can enjoy our sand dunes, now and in the