Bev Phillips gave a very animated talk on Dynamic Dunescapes, and described her work on Braunton Burrows. These are one of the best dune systems in the UK and along with Croyde and Woolacombe are the focus of the Devon project. Dunes are very important habitats for plants and animals, and have been been identified as being one of the most at risk habitats by international conservation bodies.
Dunes are not static features but part of an evolving system from bare sand, through fixed dunes and dune slacks, to heath and eventually to scrub and woodland. Many of the rare plants, such as orchids, and animals, such as sand lizards, depend on very specific conditions to flourish. Not letting the 'natural' system evolve to scrubland requires active management, such as grazing by Red Devon Cattle and removal of fast growing aiens species. Dunes also act as a natural coastal protection barrier and help to keep the beach healthy. They are also great places to walk, exercise the dog, and take in the wide variety of nature on show.
Bev is part of a three year project studying Braunton Burrows and, despite being unable to carry out much of the Education and Community events that she had planned in the first year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, is full of ideas for the future. Volunteers and Community Groups are wanted! Coastwise must invite her back at the end of the project to see how successful she has been.
See her talk on YouTube here https://youtu.be/-CUJZTaAt20 .