Threatened sand dunes gain £4m National Lottery funding boost

Sand dunes Image copyright Paul Glendell/Natural England
Image caption Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes in Lincolnshire is among the areas included in the Dynamic Dunescapes project

A scheme to get England and Wales' sand dunes moving has been given a £4m grant from the National Lottery.

Dunes are home to endangered species of plants and animals including the natterjack toad, sand lizard and dune gentian, experts said.

The decades-old approach to managing dunes has been to fence them in and use vegetation to prevent movement.

Now, conservationists say dunes are naturally mobile and need to be moving to be effective habitats.

Image copyright Peter Wakely/Natural England
Image caption The Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve in Cumbria will also benefit from the scheme

As part of a four-year scheme, measures will include the removal of invasive species, creating dune wetland areas and encouraging rabbit grazing.

Dune improvement areas

  • Anglesey and Gwynedd
  • Braunton Burrows on the North Devon coast
  • Carmarthenshire
  • Cumbria
  • Lincolnshire
  • North Cornwall
  • Merseyside
  • Studland Dunes in Dorset
  • Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot

According to the Dynamic Dunescapes project, led by Natural England, dune landscapes have declined by almost two-thirds in Wales since 1900 and are down a third across the UK.

It aims to conserve about 7,000 hectares of sand dunes - some 35% of the total for England and Wales - and improve public access.

Image copyright Allan Drewitt/Natural England
Image caption Dunes are home to protected species including the sand lizard and natterjack toad

Drew Bennellick, from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: "In recent decades the approach has been to keep dunes where they are by using fencing and vegetation.

"We now know that this is bad news for some of the rare species that make their homes among our dunes and they need to be able to naturally move."

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