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.
The Fylde dunes are home to a wide variety of specialist plants and animals which are perfectly adapted to life in sand. Marram grass is well known for its long roots and dune stabilisation properties, but there are also rare plants such as the Isle of Man Cabbage and Dune helliborne as well as a variety of scare orchids. A trip to the dunes in summer will reveal a large diversity of butterflies, moths and bees busy collecting nectar from all the colourful wildflowers which flourish on the dunes. The Local Nature Reserve and nearby mobile dunes are so important that they have been given government protection and named a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The dunes are not just important for wildlife, they are also highly important for the local residents who live nearby. The dunes are nature’s defence from the sea, protecting us from high tides and storm surges, which are predicted to increase with climate change.
The dunes also provide an important recreational resource to the local residents and tourists who come to enjoy the dunes through activities such as picnics, dog walking and horse riding
Sand dunes are complex and dynamic systems which often have to be managed to ensure the health of the system. Dunes are vulnerable to increased disturbance, invasive plant species as well as weather and sea conditions.
The Sand Dunes Project
The Fylde Sand Dune Project was established to conserve the dune system and to increase awareness of their importance and natural processes.
The dune system will require careful management to counter the damage caused through disturbance and development. This management will involve fencing areas, planting marram grass, removing invasive plants and directing people to less sensitive areas. There are lots of ways for the local community to get involved in looking after the dunes, ranging from litter picks to practical conservation work parties.
The project also aims to raise awareness of how special the dunes are through guided walks, talks and community projects. There will be opportunities for local schools and colleges to get involved in learning about and looking after the dunes.
Project Officer, Anne Heslop said “This is an excellent opportunity to involve the local community with the vitally important conservation of the dunes. The dunes are a fascinating habitat, with so many rare plants and animals that we really need to shout about them. This project will give people the chance to get involved and be proud about what the Fylde Coast has to offer.”
Sand Dunes Management
Dune vegetation encourages new dunes to form. Photo by: Graeme Skelcher
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
- ehance public appreciation and enjoyment of the dunes
In order to enhance dunes, vegetation will be encouraged to develop on the top of the beach to allow for new dunes to form. This is will achieved through reducing erosional pressures and where necessary by erecting brushwood fencing and planting marram grass. This will create a wider dune system which is more robust to storm events and increase the wildlife diversity of the area.
Grassland and scrub management will be undertaken to increase the wealth of plant diversity and in some locations wet areas will be created to benefit dragonflies, toads and other wetland species.
Paths will be developed to encourage people to visit the dunes in a sensitive manner and where required boardwalks will be created.
Education and interpretation materials will be created to enhance people’s enjoyment of the dunes and to better understand how we can look after it.