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As well as being beautiful coastal landscapes, sand dunes are important biodiversity hotspots and are a sanctuary for rare species of plants, amphibians and reptiles, which are perfectly adapted to live in sand. 

Sand dunes are among the most threatened habitats in Europe and the UK, where they have declined by a third since 1900.  Much of the remaining two thirds is in poor condition, in turn leading to the loss of both individual species and species abundance. 


Several purple Early Marsh Orchids in the grassland

Dynamic Dunescapes

Dynamic Dunescapes is an ambitious partnership project, rejuvenating some of England and Wales’ most important sand dunes for people, communities and wildlife.  Over time, many dunes have become covered by grass and scrub which have over-stabilised the sand, and invasive species have overtaken native ones. 

Healthy sand dunes need areas of freely-moving sand, sheltered dune slacks and areas of low vegetation to support their diverse wildlife.  The Dynamic Dunescapes project is using pioneering conservation techniques to rejuvenate the dunes and make their shifting sands the perfect home for threatened species again. 


A person standing and holding a scythe over grass in dunes

Braunton Burrows

Plantlife is working on the north Devon coast to rejuvenate Braunton Burrows, the largest uninterrupted sand dune system in the UK, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and part of the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  We are leading the largest conservation intervention ever seen on British sand dunes, working with Christie Estates (who own the site) and the MOD.

Nearly 36 hectares of scrub have been cleared by diggers and more than 10 hectares scraped back to create large areas of suitable habitat for dune specialist species.  As we remove the scrub that is taking over areas of the dunes, we’ll also be removing invasive plant species such as Japanese rose and sea buckthorn, 


Relevant Case Studies

Fen Orchid Programme

Fen Orchid Programme

A more than 10 years programme of increasing the population of the Fen Orchid in the UK lead by Plantlife.

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