Extensive dune systems can be found along the coastline of County Fingal. Not only do the dunes provide a place to live for many rare plants and animals, these dunes are also an important natural protection zone between the sea and the hinterland. It is therefore important that the dunes stay in a natural and healthy condition.
Dunes are dynamic ecosystems and natural processes such as erosion and sedimentation by the sea and wind shape the dunes on an ongoing basis. Ideally these natural processes should be left to their own devices. Sometimes dune conservation action is needed though, and dune conservation projects are underway in the County at Rush, Portrane, Malahide and Portmarnock.

Portrane

The dunes in Portrane are affected by dune erosion, pedestrians, housing development and some Seabuckthorn. A dune management plan was prepared together with the local community to address the various issues affecting the dunes. In 2007, several local community groups and Fingal County Council built a sandladder boardwalk through the dunes to deal with the pedestrian access issues. Several areas of dunes have been fenced off by the County Council to limit access by people and cars. A 3-year erosion monitoring programme is to be set up in 2009.
Rush
At the south-beach in Rush, Seabuckthorn is spreading rapidly throughout the dunes, covering a total area of over 3 hectares. This prickly shrub casts a dense shade and enriches the soil which makes it hard for typical sand dune plants to grow. Fingal County Council is working together with the Rush Golf Club, the National Parks & Wildlife Service and the Conservation Volunteers Fingal to remove and control this invasive shrub.
Malahide
The dunes in Malahide are a popular area for a stroll along the beach at any time of the year. To get to the beach, visitors were walking all over the developing dunes. This resulted in lots of little pathways being eroded into the sand, thereby slowly destabilising the dunes.

Post and wire fencing has been erected to control the access points to the beach and the dunes. This means that people can still get to the beach, while the dune vegetation has a chance to recover and develop.

Portmarnock

In 2001 major dune conservation measures were undertaken at Portmarnock to tackle coastal erosion. Several erosion control techniques were used to various levels of success.

The Local Beach Committee of the Portmarnock Community Association has set up a programme together with the local secondary school to monitor the erosion and sedimentation processes on the beach and the dunes. The Beach Committee also organises clean ups and Marram Grass planting day with the local schools and community groups. For more information on this conservation programme contact the Portmarnock Beach Committee on pcabeach@yahoo.ie.

For more information on these projects please contact the Biodiversity Officer.
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