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Greatstone Dunes

Greatstone Dunes are typical coastal sand dunes. Sand dunes are small ridges or hills of sand found at the top of a beach, above the usual maximum reach of the waves. The dunes at Greatstone run parallel to the coastline, separating the beach and sea from the land, along almost the whole length of Greatstone. [see map]

These coastal sand dunes develope by onshore winds blowing the sand  in the intertidal zone - the area between the high and low tide marks. A key factor in their development is the presence of a sufficiently large beach whose surface dries out between high tides. The dry sand is then blown landwards and deposited above high water mark, where it is trapped by specialised dune-building grasses which grow up through successive layers of deposited sand.

Sand dunes can be important ecosystems supporting unique plant life and a healthy population of small animals and insects. Greatstone Dunes are a breeding area for the Brown Tail Moth Caterpillar. Link Icon more

Owned by Shepway District Council (DC), Greatstone Dunes are a Site of Special Scientific Interest with many rare species of plants.

Management of the Dunes

Sea Buckthorn
Like the dunes of the Sahara Desert, the sand at Greatstone is constantly on the move, and various methods are used to stop it shifting, especially where it is near roads and housing.
Sea Buckthorn has been planted in the past as it is excellent at stabilising the sand. Unfortunately this prickly bush has spread over most of the dunes and is threatening the rare native plants that live here.

Since the winter of 2008 volunteers led by the Romney Marsh Countryside Partnership have removed two areas of buckthorn and such work will continue in 2011.

If you would like to help in the removal of the Sea Buckthorn and/or would like more information, please contact the Romney Marsh Countryside Partnership onTelephone Icon 01797 367934.

Dunes are very vulnerable to erosion by natural processes and by human activity. Shepway DC have over the years using wood fencing to help protect and control the moving of the dunes.

Construction of semi-permeable fences along the seaward face of dunes encourages the deposition of wind blown sand, reduce trampling and protect existing or transplanted vegetation.
A variety of fencing materials can be used successfully to enhance natural recovery. Fencing can also be used in conjunction with other management schemes to encourage dune stabilisation and reduce environmental impacts.

They have in the last two years installed such fencing along a stretch of the maximum high tide line, leaving access points to the various paths that cross the dunes. The location of this new fencing is such that it will cause the dunes to increase in size seaward to resolve the problem of them getting taller, which could potentially lead to them becoming unstable.

Five Year Plan
The Romney Marsh Countryside Project was asked  in Spring  2009 to produce a five year management plan for the dunes.

Owen Leyshon of the Project says " Getting the right balance between the human pressures and the wildlife is vital - with the main thrust of the proposed works over the next five years is to reduce the coverage of the prickly sea buckthorn in the dunes and to check the spread of the garden flowers which are throughout the dunes. Issues like dog fouling, fly tipping of garden material and access will also be addressed"

More Information

You can find out more about sand dunes at The Geography Site.

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Greatstone Dunes
Greatstone Dunes

Greatstone Dunes
Greatstone Dunes

Sea Buckthorn
Sea Buckthorn

Fencing to protect the dunes
Fencing to protect the dunes

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