Restoring Newborough’s sand dunes
After years of decline work has begun to help restore one of Wales’ finest sand dune systems.
Over the last 60 years Newborough Warren on Anglesey has lost a staggering 94% of open, mobile sand dunes as they became over-grown with grass and trees.
This destroyed the unique pioneer dune slacks necessary for the specialist and rare wildlife of the dunes to flourish.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has already removed dead or stunted trees from two small areas behind the dunes.
Now it will begin the second phase of the project by removing vegetation from some dunes and cutting notches in the frontal dunes so that the sand can move about naturally in the wind. This will help rare plants and insects such as petalwort, sand wasps, mining bees and rare beetles that have been driven to the brink of extinction in the area.
Graham Williams, Senior Reserve Manager at Natural Resources Wales said:
“The site needs help because the stabilised dunes are not providing the right habitat for the species that live there.
“This work will allow the rare insects and plants to re-colonise the dunes and return them to naturally diverse and balanced habitats over the next couple of years.
“Naturally mobile sand dunes aren’t just good for nature, they provide a more dynamic coastal defence system which can adapt to storms and sea level change. They are also fantastic natural landscapes and great places for everyone to enjoy.
“Although the diggers used for the work may look heavy-handed, they will clear away the thick thatch of choking grasses and dark soil, to reveal bare sandy areas.”
In other work, tree thinning will begin shortly in the eastern corner of the forest to remove some conifer trees. These will be replaced next winter by NRW and the Red Squirrels Trust Wales with a variety of around 2,000 native trees which will be a better habitat for wildlife.
This is in addition to the current work of Red Squirrels Trust Wales planting 1,600 hazel trees near the area of the dunes currently being refurbished.
The project is funded by the SITA Trust as part of a series of dune rejuvenation projects across Wales which has also included work at Kenfig National Nature Reserve (NNR) and Merthyr Mawr Warren NNR near Bridgend.