Sea buckthorn helps secure defences at Berrow

A project on the Somerset coast has strengthened sand dunes and reduced the risk of erosion and the potential for inland flooding, it has been claimed.

Sections of fence have been put up with sea buckthorn planted behind, which has caught the sand and created new dunes.

Conservation volunteers put up the 40m fence at Berrow Sands.

Landscape office for Sedgemoor Council, Janette Burton, said that part of the beach had been identified by conservationists as "very vulnerable".

"The Berrow Conservation Group noted that the sand dunes had washed away during high tides.

"We consulted with Natural England who advised we try some sand fencing to enable the dunes to stabilise.

'Natural sea defence'

"The Berrow group and volunteers from the University of Bristol got together, erected some fencing and planted sea buckthorn and the sand has now built up back into the dunes.

"The fence was about a metre high and the sand blows up against the fence and through it and forms a new sand dune.

"This is a natural sea defence... what people don't realise about this is that if it wasn't there, the tide would come in and flood into Berrow.

"It's very important we identify the weaknesses within the defences and provide stabilisation for the dunes.

"Sea buckthorn was planted here in the early 1900s to provide some stabilisation. It has done its job but is encroaching too far inland and into the grassland areas we'd like to keep clear."

Berrow Dunes Local Nature Reserve lies within the much larger Berrow Dunes Site of Special Scientific Interest.

It borders the Bridgwater Bay National Nature Reserve which was designated under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland habitat of international importance and a special protection area.

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