Sands of Time Title
This site provides detailed information on the sand dunes of the Sefton coast in North West England
Home Page
Coastal Change
A History
  Physical Forces
Growth & Erosion
Future Change
Managing Change
Primary Succession
Model of Succession
The Strand Line
Embryo Dunes
Mobile Dunes
Blow Outs
Semi-fixed Dunes
Fixed Dunes
Dune Slacks
Dune Heath
Vegetation/Soil Data
Studying Succession
Pine Plantations
Project Objectives
Project Partners
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Related Links
Dune Heath

If grazing pressure does not allow the development of scrub or woodland on the fixed dunes, the fixed dune grasslands will eventually develop into a different vegetation type. The surface of the soil continues to be leached by rainwater and this gradually washes out the basic minerals (especially calcium) which caused the high pH of the earlier successional stages.

Without a large plant biomass to lock up the plant nutrients, these are also leached out of the soil surface. The result is a dry, acid, nutrient-poor substrate. Plants which are adapted to these conditions are those of acid grasslands and heathlands, and on very old parts of the dune system these vegetation types can develop.

Acidic grassland being colonised by heather
Acidic grassland being colonised by a
dark patch of heather, Calluna vulgaris
Dune heath at Woodvale on the Sefton Coast
Dune heath at Woodvale on the Sefton Coast dominated by
Common Heather Calluna vulgaris

Because the acidic conditions required for dune heath only develop on the old, landward dunes, this habitat has been severely affected by housing development and pine plantations. Only small fragments of dune heath remain on the Sefton Coast, much of it on Ministry of Defence land and golf courses. One small patch at Freshfield (north of the station) is accessible to the public. A leaflet on the Dune Heath on the Sefton Coast is available from the Sefton Coast Partnership.

The distribution of Dune Heath on the Sefton Coast
Map of the distribution of dune heath on the Sefton Coast


For more information about this project email at Liverpool Hope University.
  Go to the site of Liverpool Hope University    

Liverpool Hope University worked with English Nature and the
Sefton Coast Partnership to implement the Sands of Time project.