Sands of LIFE work set to boost Tywyn Aberffraw sand dunes

A major conservation project aimed at boosting sand dunes across Wales is turning its focus to Tywyn Aberffraw as work to revitalise the dunes at the internationally important site on Anglesey gets underway.

A major conservation project aimed at boosting sand dunes across Wales is turning its focus to Tywyn Aberffraw as work to revitalise the dunes at the internationally important site on Anglesey gets underway.

The Natural Resources Wales (NRW) led Sands of LIFE project team will start work to strip the turf from six areas within the dune slacks at Tywyn Aberffraw. This work will create bare sand habitat that is crucial to the survival of some of Wales’ rarest plants, especially mosses and liverworts.

The project contractors, Tir a Choed, will also remove invasive non-native plants, such as beach rose, New Zealand flax and montbretia which, if left unchecked, can spread to smother large areas of dunes.

Scrub is also being cut back to prevent it from taking over flower-rich dune grassland, and to allow better access through the dunes for both people and livestock.

Over the last 80 years, open sand has largely disappeared from Welsh sand dunes, being replaced by dense grass and scrub. This change has been caused by factors such as the introduction of non-native plants, lower levels of grazing, climate change and air pollution. As the dunes have become more stable and overgrown, rare wildlife has declined.

The Sands of LIFE project has been working closely with the Bodorgan Estate, who own and manage the dunes at Tywyn Aberffraw.

Leigh Denyer, Sands of LIFE Project and Monitoring Officer North, said:

“Our work at Tywyn Aberffraw is crucial to our aim of revitalising sand dunes across Wales. Tywyn Aberffraw’s dunes are classed as a Special Area of Conservation and are of international importance for biodiversity.
“The turf stripping in the dune slacks will create bare sand, which will boost rare species of plants and insects that depend upon this crucial habitat.
“The eradication of invasive alien plants and garden-escapes is necessary to prevent them taking hold and dominating the dunes, with the risk of losing our dynamic dunes as they become over-stabilised.
“Whilst conducting work on our behalf, all contractors will be following the current COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.”

Helen Wainwright, Meyrick Estate Management Ltd, said:

“Tywyn Aberffraw is enjoyed by many members of the local community and visitors to Anglesey. So, we are delighted to be supporting these important works which will revitalise an ecologically important part of our Estate. We look forward to watching a diverse range of plants and insects re-establishing themselves and flourishing here.”

Overall, Sands of LIFE is restoring over 2,400 hectares of sand dunes, across four Special Areas of Conservation, on 10 separate Welsh sites. The project runs until December 2022.

Other Sands of LIFE winter work will also be taking place at Newborough Warren, Morfa Harlech and Morfa Dyffryn, as well as five sites in south Wales.

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