Posted: Sat 29th Jun 2024

World Sand Dune Day: Restoration efforts at Gronant and Talacre

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

People around the globe will celebrate World Sand Dune Day today, Saturday, June 29/

The emphasis of the day is to highlight the importance of protecting and enhancing these vital coastal habitats.

It is the fourth annual celebration since its establishment in 2021 by the Sands of LIFE and Dynamic Dunescapes projects.

Sand dunes are often overlooked habitats, yet they support a range of rare flora and fauna, such as little terns, orchids, natterjack toads, and a variety of invertebrates including butterflies, moths, and mining bees, many of which are classified as threatened or vulnerable.

World Sand Dune Day aims to spotlight these unique landscapes, which straddle land and sea, providing crucial wildlife habitats in Wales as well as spaces for relaxation and reconnection with nature.

Gronant Dunes and Talacre Warren, located between Prestatyn and Talacre, are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for their plant life, insects, and birds.

These dunes are also part of the internationally important Dee Estuary/Aber Dyfrdwy Special Area of Conservation (SAC), representing the only significant remnant of the once extensive North East Wales coastal dune system.

However, parts of the dunes at Gronant and Talacre have been under pressure for some time.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW), in close partnership with Eni (UK) Ltd. and Presthaven Holiday Park, has been investing in restoration works across these areas.

Additionally, NRW is collaborating with Denbighshire County Council to support the warden duties of the little tern colony.

Neil Smith, NRW Conservation Advisor, highlights the significance of these efforts: “We have led the creation of new bare sand habitats in open glades, which will hopefully boost rare plants and invertebrates dependent on this environment. This also benefits the natterjack toad population.”

Mowing has also played a crucial role in protecting the dunes.

In the absence of grazing, contractors have mowed areas of dune grassland to maintain short vegetation, allowing orchids to flourish.

Additionally, NRW has been working to remove invasive species from the dunes to restore their natural biodiversity. Clematis, sea buckthorn, and Rosa rugosa have been spreading widely across the site, prompting an ongoing programme to reduce their impact on native species.

Plans are in place to restore two areas of dune slack on the Warren and continue controlling invasive species to enhance the condition of this internationally important dune system.

Elsewhere, the Our Dee Estuary project aims to raise awareness of the sand dune and other vital habitats and wildlife of the Dee Estuary The Tidal Dee Catchment Partnership project, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is designed to inspire coastal communities in Wirral, Flintshire, and Denbighshire about the natural heritage of the Dee Estuary.

For more information and educational resources about Welsh sand dunes, visit Natural Resources Wales’ website.

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