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200901 | Dynamic Dunescapes Project | The Towans | Hayle Pump

Many of us know and love sand dunes as beautiful coastal landscapes, but they are also listed as one of the most threatened environments in Europe for biodiversity loss.

These dunes are an important habitat for several rare species which are particularly adapted to life in the sand, but historic dune management has resulted in some dunes becoming over-stabilised, with too much vegetation. We now know that healthy sand dunes need to be free to move -to be dynamic.

Dynamic Dunescapes is a new partnership project, restoring 7000 hectares of sand dune habitat across England and Wales for the benefit of wildlife, people and communities. In Cornwall the project is being delivered by Cornwall Wildlife Trust, at two different areas of dunes: Penhale Dunes near Perranporth and The Towans, near Hayle. The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the EU LIFE Programme.

To encourage natural dune processes to continue, the project is creating more bare sand in carefully chosen locations. We are also improving overgrown dune slacks (damp or water-filled dips in the dunes) which are great places for lots of dune wildlife. Invasive species, including garden escapees, are being removed from the dunes, to create opportunities for native plants to flourish. Also, grazing animals are being used to increase dune health -by munching on plants they help to maintain a diverse mosaic of habitats. We are also encouraging responsible use of these beautiful areas.

There are a wide variety of ways the project is encouraging people to visit the dunes, to get to know them and help protect them, including:

Supporting existing volunteer groups such as ‘Friends of The Towans’ and creating new volunteer opportunities, such as species monitoring and ‘dune health’ surveys via our new Citizen Science project

Working with local schools, colleges and universities, to support using the dunes for learning

Building connections with existing site users and those who may enjoy visiting the dunes, such as people living with dementia

Organising arts events to encourage discussions and story sharing about the past, present and future of sand dunes


Learn more about the project at or find out what we’re doing locally at our Cornwall Facebook page.

Please contact the Cornwall People Engagement Officer andy.nelson@cornwallwildlifetrust if you would like to talk about any aspects of the project.