Dynamic Dunescapes

Dynamic Dunescapes

Penhale Dunes Panorama - Andy Nelson

What is Dynamic Dunescapes?

Dynamic Dunescapes is a partnership project restoring sand dunes across England and Wales for the benefit of wildlife, people and communities. In Cornwall the project is being delivered by Cornwall Wildlife Trust, at two different areas of dunes: Penhale Dunes near Perranporth and The Towans, near Hayle. The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the EU LIFE Programme, with other project partners including Natural England, Plantlife, National Trust, Natural Resources Wales, , Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and Cumbria Wildlife Trust. 

What’s the problem?

The coastal dunes of England and Wales are internationally important habitats for wildlife, listed as one of the most threatened environments in Europe for biodiversity loss. These dunes can be a sanctuary to rare species like the fen orchid, natterjack toad and sand lizard. But, conventional dune management over many decades has meant that dunes have become overgrown with vegetation (including several invasive species) and over-stabilised. We now know that healthy sand dunes need to be free to move and to be dynamic.

The Towans from Upton towards Godrevy - Andy Nelson

The Towans from Upton towards Godrevy - Andy Nelson

What is the project doing about this?

Many species need areas of open sand to thrive, so this project will bring life back to the dunes by creating more of these areas. Other specialised creatures need us to improve the dune slacks; these damp and sometimes water-filled dips in the dunes are an important habitat for amphibians and birds. Invasive species, including garden escapees, are being removed from the dunes, to improve conditions for rare native plants to flourish. Also, grazing animals are being used to increase dune health: by munching on plants in some areas of the dunes they help to maintain a diverse mosaic of habitats. We are also encouraging responsible use of these beautiful areas.

Follow our progress and share your photos of the dunes at our Dynamic Dunescapes Cornwall Facebook page.

Ponies grazing at Upton Towans - Andy Nelson

Ponies grazing at Upton Towans - Andy Nelson

What are the Project Objectives?

  1. To deliver direct evidence-based management and interventions on project sites that will make a demonstrable and sustainable improvement for the conditions and processes needed to support dune habitats and species.
  2. To build an understanding and appreciation of sand dunes as a naturally dynamic habitat requiring conservation interventions.
  3. To ensure more people and a wider range of people are involved with sand dunes and through their involvement learn about, enjoy and value sand dunes.
  4. To develop the skills of individuals and organisations to better manage dunes both now and in the future.
  5. To establish strong networks so that lessons learnt from the project (both conservation and people engagement) are shared and disseminated, building a lasting legacy for sand dunes.

How can the project and I help each other?

We spoke with people at the start of the project and discovered that here is a clear appetite to learn more about the plants and animals that live on sand dunes. There is also a willingness to get involved in looking after sand dunes and their associated wildlife. Dynamic Dunescapes is offering a wide variety of ways for the project to engage with people in Cornwall, including:

  • Working with local schools, to support using the dunes for learning
  • Providing training and supporting people interested in species monitoring surveys
  • Delivering practical conservation work, such as scrub clearance, with local volunteers
  • Starting annual ‚ÄėDune Health‚Äô surveys, using specially designed Citizen Science methods
  • Creating ‚ÄėDune Rangers‚Äô group for young people, working with our local ranger at Penhale Dunes
  • Supporting people with dementia and their carers to visit the dunes
  • Building connections with regular site users, such as dog walkers
  • Providing study bursaries for dune-related student research projects
  • Supporting local colleges/universities to run field trips on the dunes
  • Organising events in the dunes to encourage discussions and story sharing about the past, present and future of sand dunes

Please contact andy.nelson@cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk if you would like to talk about any of these aspects of the project.

Botany Walk - Martin Rule

Botany Walk - Martin Rule

Impact of Coronavirus

It should be noted that the current situation around Covid-19 is affecting how we go about achieving the aims of this project. Some aspects are on hold until it is deemed safe for groups of people to get together.

The Dune Art Challenge

One great way for young people to get involved is to take part in the Dune Art Challenge!

See the video below and visit the Dynamic Dunescape national website for more details!


Contact Andy Nelson, Engagement Officer, via email to find out more about events and opportunities to get involved.