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Crucial work to revitalise the Merthyr Mawr sand dunes - Natural Resources Wales

A major conservation project to revitalise sand dunes across Wales will soon turn its attention to Merthyr Mawr where important work to safeguard the precious dune habitat will begin.

Sands of LIFE, a project led by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), will restore over 2,400 hectares of sand dunes, across four Special Areas of Conservation, on 10 separate Welsh sites. The project will run until December 2022.

The project’s work at Merthyr Mawr will involve creating a notch in dunes along the beach, stripping vegetation from the tops of dunes and scraping and lowering the levels of some dune slacks. This work will encourage bare sand habitat that is so crucial to the survival of some of Wales’ rarest plants and insects.

Sands of LIFE will also mow areas of the dunes. This will allow low-growing dune plants to flourish whilst also supporting pollinators and other invertebrates and give a much-needed boost to rabbit populations.

Over the last 80 years, open sand has largely disappeared from Wales’ dunes, replaced by dense grass and scrub. The dunes have become stable and fixed, and rare wildlife has declined. This change has been caused by factors such as the introduction of non-native plants, lack of traditional grazing, a declining rabbit population and air pollution.

Laura Bowen, Sands of LIFE Project and Monitoring Officer South, said: “Merthyr Mawr’s amazing sand dunes may look like wild, natural places, but we still need to carry out some intervention work to stop them from becoming overgrown with dense grasses and scrub that cause rare dune wildlife to suffer. This vital work will encourage bare sand habitat that is a crucial component of our project’s aim to revitalise sand dunes across Wales. Whilst conducting work on our behalf, all contractors will be following the current COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.”

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