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How to Protect Them

How to Protect Them

The launch of the #ProtectOurDunes campaign coincides with World Sand Dune Day, which highlights the importance of conserving these vital coastal habitats around the world

Activities that can damage our sand dunes, include trampling on the dunes, sliding down the dune face, wild camping and campfires, sports training and roaming dogs.

We can protect them by staying off the dunes, keeping to designated pathways and camping areas, following the direction of local signage and watching wildlife from a distance

What can you do?

  1. In places where the dunes are narrow (10s of metres wide), ENJOY the beach and avoid using the dunes in any way – sorry it is that simple!
  2. In places where dunes are wider and more mature, stick to marked paths and respect local signage on how to use them and only camp in designated areas.
  3. Where erosion is a problem, help out (or form) a local action group. Dune planting, sand-fencing, involving many local groups & managing authorities, and awareness amongst users are the basics of ‘working with natural processes’ for restoration (this will only work where sand is naturally available).

Coastal Communities Taking Action

The design and implementation of appropriate and site-specific dune restoration works  along our coastline are being carried out by many coastal communities, local authorities and other groups, such as Cleancoast. This has also been supported by academic partners, such as NUI-Galway.

The focus of the efforts is not just limited to dune management works but also include human behavioural change and creating awareness of the importance and fragility of the dunes to beach users and the coastal community. This is probably the most important aspect of dune management in the longer-term as most dune damage requiring intervention usually arises from damaging human activities. Therefore, changes in beach user attitudes and behaviour are required for effective and sustainable dune restoration. 

Dune Management Options

Some of the dune restoration works being carried out by coastal communities, local authorities and other groups include:

Designated Pathway

The provision of well signposted and conveniently located paths to facilitate access to and from the beach while also protection sensitive dune revegetation, particularly the sand binding vegetation on the seaward dune face.

Information & Education

The provision of good signage and campaigns such #ProtectOurDune to make beach goers and coastal communities aware of the importance and fragility of the dunes and encourage them to use designated access routes and avoid cutting across the dunes. 

Dune Grass Planting

Coastal communities, local authorities and others have been involved in transplanting vegetation to the face of eroded dunes to enhance the natural development of the dunes. Marram grass is particularly effective as it thrives on growing dunes and is relatively easy to transplant.

Dune Fencing

Coastal communities, local authorities and others have constructed semi-permeable fences in some beaches along the seaward face of the dunes to encourage the deposition of wind blown sand, to reduce trampling and to protect aging existing or transplanted vegetation.

Maintenance of Vegetation

The maintenance of suitable sand binding vegetation to support the natural dune building and repair processes to prevent wind erosion damage is an ongoing effort. This also involves the control of problem plants and animal pests to eliminate any potential invasive species before they become widespread.

Coast for Kids

Coasts for Kids is a collaborative experience between children and their parents, coastal scientists, community artists, teachers, animators and coastal managers led by Irene Delgado-Fernandez, coastal geomorphologist, Edge Hill University, UK. They have produced wonderful series of short videos  aimed at kids from six years and older exploring coastal processes and coastal evolution. Episode 4 looks at how people affect the coastline and highlight ways we can protect our dunes.