A.T. Williams, 2021. “Coastal Observations: Rapid development and colonization of a UK sand dune system”, Shore & Beach, 89(1), 17-21.
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Rapid development and colonization of a UK sand dune system
Trinity Saint David, University of Wales, Swansea, Wales, UK
Between the years 1200 and 1600, vast quantities of sand were brought inshore from offshore bars as a result of centuries of ferocious storms, to form a series of dune systems along the South Wales coastline. Today, as a result of many housing, leisure, and industrial developments only a few remnants exist. On one such remnant at Porthcawl, Wales, UK, became a caravan site in the 1930s, which was abandoned in 1993 for political reasons. Within 27 years a minimum of 120,000 m3 of sand was transported from the adjacent beach and formed dunes >4 m in height along a 400- m frontal edge that extended some 130 m inland, approximately a third of the site. Typical vegetation found along the frontal part of the system are Ammophila arenaria (marram), Agropyron junceiforme (sand couch grass) and Euphorbia maritimum (spurge). To the rear of the system, vegetation included Agrostis tenuis and stolonifera, (bent and creeping bent grass), Cirsium avense (creeping thistle), and Caluna vulgaris (heather). A 4-m-high and c. 3000m2 area of a vigorous stand of Hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) has also formed. The rapidity of dune formation and vegetation colonization is staggering.