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
Project Funding
Related Links
Pine Plantations

From around the turn of the century up until the 1930s huge areas of the Sefton dunes were covered with plantations of pines.

Treeplanting at Ainsdale in 1936

Treeplanting at Ainsdale in 1936
(photograph by R.K.Gresswell, English Nature Archive,
Ainsdale NNR)


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 sand dunes beneath a pine plantation
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
Open Dune Restoration Project at Ainsdale
Sand Dune National Nature Reserve
Clear felled pines
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 dunes
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 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.