Landscape-scale environmental drivers of coastal dune mobility


Coastal dune habitats provide a diversity of habitats for rare and threatened plants and animals. The movement of windblown sand within these dune systems is critical to maintaining a high level of biodiversity as it creates a mosaic of habitats.

The conservation status of mobile coastal sand dunes in the UK has declined dramatically in the last 50 years as vegetation cover has increased. As a result, managers of coastal sand dunes, including Natural England and National Resource Wales, have implemented habitat restoration interventions including the removal of invasive species and mature vegetation. The most efficient strategy to improve the short-term mobility of sand has been the large-scale removal of vegetation and excavation of trough and bowl-shaped depressions in locations where mobile dunes previously existed. This technique, however, is expensive and evidence from similar dune remobilisation efforts in the Netherlands and Canada have reported that the mobility of these dunes is not sustained after management interventions, resulting in revegetation.

UAV Survey Ynyslas


Using a combination of remote sensing and in-situ measurements, this program of study will statistically identify the landscape-scale factors that correlate with existing mobile dunes in the UK landscape. This information will be discussed and disseminated with key stakeholders. The knowledge gained from the research will be used to guide decision making with regards to the technique, location, and scale of dune rehabilitation interventions throughout the UK and around the world.

Principle Investigator Thomas Smyth introduces the project in this short video
PI Thomas Smyth on Twitter Thomas Smyth @tag_Smyth
Link to the project page on the UKRI Gateway to Research