The Reserve Manager's Story
"To walk along the beach on an early morning in late Spring is my idea of heaven. I often take time to lie on my back on a sunny day in the dunes looking up at the sky. I feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the sand. I see the clouds scudding by and my face is tickled by the spiky ends of the grass.
But it is my ears that are bombarded by the highpitched calls of the sea birds, and the melodious songs of the small skylarks as they fly high and then parachute down - a seaside symphony!
When I get up again my eyes spot the dabs of colour in the slacks, as the spring flowers burst through. Whenever I come new colours seem to have been painted in! What a difference from a few years ago, when most of the area behind the dunes was covered in a woodland. The trees had self-seeded from the forestry plantation behind. A lot of them were the Scots and Corsican Pine and were shading out other species. The windmill is doing a great job too in pumping water back into the slacks to make them wet like they used to be.
I wish I had been around in the early 1900s before the forestry. This place was very different then. The Forestry Commission got the ground just after the First World War when, because of the war, the country was short of timber. The planting job was done in 1925. They didn't realise the damage they were doing by draining the ground and planting conifers, they just wanted the wood. They put up rabbit fencing to keep the rabbits out, but it also stopped the ducklings returning to the sea from their nests among the newly planted trees - many perished each year despite the efforts of the foresters.
Before then, as the name suggests - Tentsmuir - it was heather moorland and wet bogland. We know this from old maps and what people wrote about the area. The owner, wanting to make money, introduced grouse shooting. He transplanted heather onto the new blown sand and managed it by burning. The grouse were brought in from Perthshire. A lot of bird species have been lost from Tentsmuir as a result of these land use changes, some have been gained too. When something isn't valued, no-one notices or cares about what happens to it.
Today, we realise that Tentsmuir is very special for the variety of animals and plants it supports and the growth of the sand dunes. In 1954, Tentsmuir Point was made a National Nature Reserve. It's my job to make sure it is looked after and protected. But there are still a lot of people who don't care and don't think. There is so much that local people, including young people can do to help - keeping the scrub down, clearing litter, encouraging everyone to keep their dogs on a lead and explaining why, enjoying it too! With your help we can make sure it survives."