From around the turn of the century up until the
1930s huge areas of the Sefton dunes were covered with plantations
Treeplanting at Ainsdale in 1936
(photograph by R.K.Gresswell, English Nature Archive,
Once a woodland canopy is formed, the pine trees
shade out the light from the surface and no other plants are able
to grow. Huge areas of natural dune landscape with specialised sand
dune plants and animals were lost in this way. Pine needles are
deposited on the surface and alter the structure and chemistry of
the soil, creating very different conditions from the original dunes.
The needles are very acid (in contrast to the basic sandy substrate
that the pines were planted into) and there is a very large accumulation
of organic matter at the soil surface. In the pine woodlands, the
pine trees are often the only plant species present.
Surface of the dunes beneath
a pine plantation
The pine plantations have been colonised by Red
Squirrels Sciurus vulgaris, a rare, declining and protected
species in Great Britain. The pine woodlands at the rear of the
Sefton Coast sand dune system are now welcomed as feature of the
local landscape and managed to maximise the conservation of the
Red Squirrels. On the frontal pine woodlands on Ainsdale Sand Dunes
National Nature Reserve there is a project to recreate the natural
dune landscape destroyed by the pine plantations.
Open Dune Restoration Project at
Sand Dune National Nature Reserve
Regeneration of sand dune vegetation
in cleared pine plantation area.
The removal of the pine plantations
on the frontal dunes will encourage recolonisation by specialised
plants such as Yellow Bartsia Parentucellia viscosa and animals
such as the protected Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis and Natterjack
Toad Bufo calamita and monitoring of the project shows that
this is already a success.
Yellow Bartsia, a rare
plant of damp coastal grasslands. Since the clearance of the pine
plantations on the frontal dunes this plant has recolonised the
damp dune slack areas.
For more information about this project email firstname.lastname@example.org
at Liverpool Hope University.
Liverpool Hope University worked with English
Nature and the Sefton Coast Partnership to implement the Sands of Time project.