Sand dunes arecommon features of shoreline environments. Sand dunes provide habitat forhighly specialized plants and animals,including rare and endangered species.
They can protect beachesfrom erosion and re-stabilise eroded beaches. Dunes are threatened by humanactivity, both intentional and unintentional. Coastal dunes are highlysensitive to human activity, for example, in the last 30 years, mainly becauseof tourism, nearly 75% of the Mediterranean’s coastal dunes have been damagedor destroyed1.Smaller impacts of human activity involve trampling, the construction offootpaths and off road vehicle tracks. More significant human impacts on sanddunes are the construction of roads, housing and water works along the coast. Footpatherosion is caused by the extensive trampling of vegetation and soil. Theprocess of path erosion can be split into four main steps: there is nofootpath.
There is extensive vegetation and the roots help bind soil particlestogether; foot traffic compresses the soil, causing the soil particles to betighter together and go downward, creating a shallow gulley on the ground. Thishas two effects. It allows less rain to be absorbed into the ground, becausethe soil is tight, and it causes the rain to follow the path because the pathis the lowest point. Soil particles wash away, more vegetation dies, less rootsnow exist and it becomes easier for even more soil to wash away; all vegetationin the path has died. A deeper gulley forms, exposing rocks and more dirt. Adeeper gulley leads to more water following the path, worsening the process; deepeningcontinues. At this point, the exposed rocks begin to make the path moretreacherous.
This leads to people avoiding the middle of the path and walkingalong the edges, where there is still vegetation. This process continues on theedge of the paths, and unless action is taken, the path becomes deeper andwider2. Theoretical Context-Studland Bay contains a series of protectedand non-protected dunes, this is ideal for measuring and comparing duneprofiles, in addition the honey-pot site offers an ideal location to recorderosion due to the high levels of visitors it attracts every year, during peaksummer times the bay can reach 25,000 visitors per day3.The high levels of tourism make the beach a safe environment for aninvestigation to be conducted, furthermore the beach is an easily accessiblelocation, with the addition of a short ferry crossing from Sandbanks to theStudland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve. Additionally, theStudland area is within a close enough proximity for it to be accessible withrelative ease, therefore making it the ideal location to measure the impact oftourism and the extent to which the measures imposed at Studland Bay reduceerosion from human activity. Studland Bay’s 5km of sandy beachis a popular tourist destination, owned and managed by the National Trust since1982.
It is characterised by an extensive ridged dune system that hasdeveloped since 1700 and forms a key site for coastal geomorphology studies.Behind the dunes lies Godlingston heath, a National Nature Reserve as well as aSSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). Studland Dunes are the onlylarge dune heath site in the south and south-west of Britain and provide animportant habitat for rare butterflies, insects and all six of Britain’sreptile species, including the endangered sand lizard. In addition,Studland also contains other important wildlife habitats including intertidalmudflats and a saltmarsh. Links to Specification The investigation is linked to the specification throughCoastal Landscape (3.1.3.
3) – the origin and development of landforms andlandscapes of coastal deposition; beaches, simple and compound spits, tombolos,offshore bars, barrier beaches and islands and sand dunes. As well as thefactors and processes involved in their development. In addition it is alsolinked to Ecosystems in the British Isles over time (22.214.171.124) and the effect ofhuman activity on succession.