Scrub removal at Pembrey sand dunes to boost specialist wildlife

Sea buckthorn on the dunes at Pembrey in November 2022

Natural Resources Wales will soon start work to remove scrub from sand dunes in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire.

Starting on Monday 11 December, NRW will use large specialist machinery to remove Sea Buckthorn from the Pembrey Forest and Pembrey Country Park areas of dune.

Sea Buckthorn is a non-native species which smothers out the natural vegetation found on the dunes. The clearance work is carried out every year to remove this species creating a better environment for wildlife and rare plants, and ensure that the coastal landscape is more resilient to future challenges such as climate change.

The work has been funded by the Welsh Government Nature Networks Fund and is expected to be completed by 20 December. Car park 8 will be out of bounds while the work is carried out. Everywhere else will remain open as normal.

Ruth Harding, Senior Officer, Environment Team, NRW, said:

“Sea Buckthorn grows very quickly and would sweep across large parts of the dunes if we did not manage it. The removal of these plants will create space for all the incredible species that can only live in sand dune habitats.
“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. 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.”

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Hazel Evans said:

“Working with Natural Resources Wales, we are pleased to be able to continue with the important work of returning our dunes to a condition which will allow the appropriate sand dune biodiversity to improve. The removal of the invasive Sea Buckthorn is fundamental to this process and, whilst the initial work may look drastic, it is necessary to ensure as much of this tenacious shrub is removed as possible.
“Disturbing the ground will invigorate the existing seed bed, with the result that a wide range of wildflowers and grasses will re-establish and begin the process of increasing the biodiversity of the dunes at Pembrey.”