The first World Sand Dune Day puts a spotlight on at-risk sand creatures and biodiversity

Penhale Dunes by Andy Nelson 

Today marks the first World Sand Dune Day and is the first awareness day of its kind celebrating the beauty and biodiversity of sand dunes.

Today marks the first World Sand Dune Day (25 June 2021) and is the first awareness day of its kind celebrating the beauty and biodiversity of sand dunes.  

Established by Dynamic Dunescapes and Sands of LIFE, World Sand Dune Day is raising awareness of both the specialist creatures that inhabit dunes and the threats they currently face.   

To launch World Sand Dune Day, events are being held at Dynamic Dunescapes’ sites across England and Wales, with Natural England chair Tony Juniper and Cornwall Wildlife Trust chief executive Carolyn Cadman joining a ‘Citizen Science Bioblitz’ species recording event at Penhale Dunes in Cornwall.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust chief executive, Carolyn Cadman, said:  

“Sand dunes are amazing places which are used by many people and visitors and home to common and rare wildlife, such as the tuneful skylark, Cornwall’s iconic chough and tiny, rare petalworts, just a few millimetres in size. 

“Parts of the dunes have become covered in thick vegetation and less sand is moving around in the wind. This puts pressure on species which need areas of bare sand to survive so we’re pioneering new conservation techniques to rejuvenate the dunes - to get the sand moving again - helping wildlife to thrive. 

“World Sand Dune Day is the first of many. It is being established this year with the ambition that it should grow, year on year, and connect projects and communities improving dunes all over the world as part of our global natural heritage.” 

Penhale Dunes Panorama - Andy Nelson

Penhale Dunes Panorama - Andy Nelson

Natural England chair, Tony Juniper, said:   

“World Sand Dune Day is about celebrating these incredible habitats and the diversity of life that they can support. It’s also about getting people into the dunes to connect with nature, to love their local coastal spaces, and to learn more about these habitats by becoming volunteers, or citizen scientists.   

“The 24-hour World Sand Dune Day Citizen Science Bioblitz will help gather important data to help conservationists better understand and better manage the site for nature.” 

Dynamic Dunescapes is a partnership project across England and Wales, led by Natural England, with work in Cornwall led by Cornwall Wildlife Trust, working collaboratively to restore sand dunes for wildlife, people and communities.  

Dynamic Dunescapes is working at Penhale Dunes and The Towans in Cornwall with local communities and volunteers, to support biodiversity by removing invasive species, overgrown areas of scrub, and introducing Exmoor ponies which will graze and create the right conditions for wildflowers, ground-nesting birds and insects like Cornwall’s famed but rare silver-studded blue butterfly. 
 
The global spotlight has been on Cornwall this month with the county hosting the G7 Summit where world leaders discussed environmental concerns and the announcement of a G7 Legacy project, a major land restoration and regeneration programme across 21,000 hectares of land. This nature recovery project involves planting trees, restoring peat, making improvements to water quality, recreating scarce habitats and reintroducing lost and declining species such as dormice and the marsh fritillary butterfly.