This activity provides excellent opportunities to discuss why sand dunes are so special and the importance of sand dune management. It allows you to understand why sand dune environments and their wildlife are under threat in Scotland and Britain and how sand dunes have been valued differently at different times. You can discuss how good management can enhance the wildlife (biodiversity) value of these sand dunes, as well as their physical (landscape) value and how, with good interpretation, this can attract people to the area and contribute to the local economy.
OBJECTIVE: to develop an awareness of issues of conservation.
TIME: 30 minutes
LOCATION: on site, during a walk with the Reserve Manager, or back in the classroom as a reinforcement activity. This activity is easily adapted for use in the classroom.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED: sets of cards for each group.
Before the Activity
Discuss with the young people the concepts (and terms if you feel it appropriate) of biodiversity and wildlife conservation.
How to do it
The statements on the Activity sheet describe good management and problems for sand dunes. On the beach, give a set of cards to each group and ask them to draw two circles in the sand. One circle will be for good management techniques, the other for problems in the environment. The groups should then sort the cards into the appropriate circles.
What are the main threats to sand dunes, generally?
Commercial development: caravan sites and golf courses are often sited on sand dunes. Plantation forestry and recreational activities like trail bikes and 4WD vehicles cause damage and wildlife can also be disturbed by more passive leisure activities such as dog walking or horse riding.
Why is it important to manage sand dunes?
The damage caused by human activity can be minimised through management, and good management may even enhance the wildlife value of an area. For example clearing conifers may help restore dune heathland and grasslands and their associated animal communities. Grazing by cattle and rabbits can help maintain these habitats but it needs to be carefully balanced so that the grazing animals don't start to cause erosion. Fences and gates can help to control grazing animals and keep trail bikes and four-wheel drive vehicles out of the dunes. Good planning can help reduce the negative impact of large-scale developments like caravan parks and golf courses. Designation of sites that are important for nature conservation, such as National Nature Reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest can help by giving legal protection.
Information is an important tool for management. Informed visitors can help to reduce their impact on the area by acting responsibly and encouraging others to do the same.