Introduction to the dunes
The Fylde sand dunes are an important feature of our coastline, covering approximately 80 hectares between Starr Gate in the North and Lytham in the South. However, unfortunately over the past 150 years, over 80% of our sand dunes have been lost, mainly due to the expansion of Blackpool and St. Annes.
The range of conditions in a sand dune habitat supports a surprising rich variety of plants and wildlife that are well suited to their environment. Many of these species are incapable of surviving in any other habitat and due to their scarcity have national or international significance. There are over 280 vascular plant species recorded on the Fylde sand dunes including several internationally rare plants such as the Isle of Man Cabbage and Dune Helleborine. There are over 150 different species of butterflies and moths recorded and the area is also home to several breeding birds including stonechats, skylarks and reed buntings. Due to its ecological importance a large area of the dunes has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as well as being designated Lancashire’s first local nature reserve in 1968. The dunes also provide an important recreational resource for the community who come to enjoy the dunes through activities such as picnics, dog walking, bird watching, walking and horse riding.
The dunes are not only important for wildlife and recreation, they are also extremely important to the local residents for their flood defence properties. The dunes act as a natural barrier to inundation at high tide and release sand during storm conditions to reduce wave action. This natural coastal defence is hugely cost-effective compared to the expenses incurred in maintaining the alternative hard defences such as sea-walls. While much depleted the remaining dunes in Fylde Borough still form the most significant part of the Borough’s coastal defence. However, sand dunes have been identified as a national priority due to high losses resulting from both human and natural factors. Due to their importance for habitats, biodiversity, sea defence and recreation it is vital a management plan is implemented to conserve our dunes.
The Fylde Sand Dunes Project
The Fylde Sand Dunes Project is a partnership project between Fylde Borough Council and The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside. It was established to conserve the dune system and to increase awareness of their importance and natural processes. A management plan was commissioned in 2008 in order to evaluate the importance of the dunes and to suggest management proposals to maintain or enhance key features.
The main aims for management of the Fylde Sand Dunes are to:
enhance the nature conservation interest of the coastal habitats,
improve the efficiency of the dunes and saltmarsh as soft sea-defence
enhance public appreciation and enjoyment of the dunes
We are working to improve the dunes as a sea defence feature, by increasing their width and encouraging natural dune growth towards the sea as there is no room left for them to expand naturally inland. This will create a wider dune system which is more robust in storm events and will increase the wildlife diversity in the area.
The project regularly carries out practical conservation management on the dunes including; Invasive species control, dune repair, fencing, developing access ways to direct people to less sensitive areas, planting Marram and Lyme grass, mowing, slack creation to increase biodiversity and beach cleans.
The project also works hard to raise awareness and encourage visitors to the dunes in a way which does not further threaten their existence. This is carried out through a variety of outreach practices including education, community engagement, interpretation and advertisement.
With the help of volunteers and the local community, the project aims to make the dunes a better place for both wildlife and people.
We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help in the delivery of our Fylde Sand Dunes Management Project.
We hold regular volunteer work parties tackling everything from scrub removal to community engagement - there's something for everyone to get involved with!
If you are passionate about your local area and keen to make a difference or for more information please contact our Fylde Sand Dunes Project Officer:
You can also visit the St Annes Sand Dunes Facebook page for regular updates.