Specialist wildlife gets a boost as scrub is removed across Pembrey sand dunes - Natural Resources Wales

flowering woody plant, sea buckthorn
Sea buckthorn on the dunes at Pembrey (Dynamic Dunescapes)

This December, large areas of invasive plants including sea buckthorn that are damaging the health of the iconic sand dune system will be removed. This will help to create a better environment for wildlife and rare plants, and ensure that this coastal landscape is more resilient to future challenges such as climate change.

Coastal sand dunes are listed as the habitat type most at risk of biodiversity loss in Europe, and in many cases the decline in habitat health is due to uncontrolled vegetation growth. Scrub smothers the sand dunes and has a devastating effect on the specialist plants and invertebrates which live there, many of which are adapted to live in bare or moving sand.

The coast around Pembrey is home to 20% of all the plants in Wales and features a large sand dune system which is currently facing issues with over vegetation. The growth of dense thickets of sea buckthorn – a fast-growing plant which isn’t native to the Welsh coastline – is a particular problem. If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and even disappear from these sand dunes.

This winter Natural Resources Wales (NRW) will be removing dense non-native sea buckthorn, using large specialist machinery from the Pembrey Forest and Pembrey Country Park areas of dune to help wildlife thrive.

This work is undertaken as part of the Dynamic Dunescapes project, supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered in Wales by Natural Resources Wales (NRW). NRW is working at Pembrey with Carmarthenshire County Council’s Outdoor Recreation Service to improve the condition of these dunes for wildlife.

The first phase of this work is to take place in Pembrey Country Park adjacent to Car Park 8 and close to the old fisherman’s car park and the second will take place on the foredunes owned by NRW in front of the forest. It is scheduled to begin on the 5th December and will last for two weeks. There will be a temporary closure of Factory Road outside the Country Park for one week – reopening on 10th December.

Hannah Lee, Wales Engagement Officer for Dynamic Dunescapes, said: “Being able to clear dense scrub and invasive species like sea buckthorn from a site like this is really important in ensuring this beautiful space has a thriving future. It creates space for all the incredible species that can only live in sand dune habitats, and this work prevents the vegetation from sweeping across large parts of the dunes in the coming years – they’re plants that can grow very quickly if we don’t manage them.”

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Posted On: 21/11/2022

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