Just as important as the restoration measures is the huge range of actions that will provide the public with information about the project and the management that benefits the flora and fauna of the sand dunes and heaths. As part of the project we will also be monitoring the impact the restoration has on other types of sandy soil, how the flora and fauna has developed and how people’s experiences of and attitudes to the area and its management have changed. Several of the actions are preparatory, where the area plans for different types of restoration and management measures are being developed and where the management plans for existing nature reserves need to be updated.
The three most important interventions that directly benefit the flora and fauna are:
1. Restoration from overgrown trees and shrubs
2. Creating areas of exposed sand
3. Conservation burning
The three most important interventions that indirectly benefit the flora and fauna are:
4. Field trips and information meetings
5. Demonstration sites and outdoor museums
6. Publications, including the website
1. Clearing trees and shrubs
Overgrowth or planting of trees and shrubs has mainly taken place in the dunes along our coasts and given us a cooler, more humid microclimate. In order to allow the coastline to regain its white and grey dunes, trees and shrubs will be cleared and the stumps pulled up along with the roots. Certain shrubs such as Japanese rose (Rosa rugosa) spread via their roots and so these need to be dug up and the roots separated from the sand. In this way, exposed areas of sand are also created, which increases the chances of the dunes’ flora and fauna becoming re-established. The tree-covered dunes will be developed through the creation of sunny glades with exposed sand in the woods.
A small amount of the cleared timber will left behind to provide a habitat for insects, fungi and lichens; the remaining waste, including stumps, will be removed.
We expect to see an increase in outdoor pursuits and recreation in the areas where the dunes have been opened up and thus made more accessible. Some of the species that will benefit are the Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris), the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) and a large number of sand-dwelling insects such as the bee species Osmia maritima and beetle species such as Harpalus neglectus and Apalus bimaculatus.
2. How do we get more sand in the landscape?
The existence of patches of sand in the landscape is of great importance for everything from the plants and animals who live there to the beautiful impression they provide to the observer. Sand increases the temperature and provides a warmer microclimate. In the sand dunes and heaths we also find many species who love warmth, as well as many insects and the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) who use the easily-dug sand to build their nests.
Today, there is a serious lack of exposed sand in the landscape as a result of current land use patterns and the constant provision of nutrients that benefit growth. In order to recreate previous structures on the sand dunes and heaths, various measures to disturb the soil will be conducted as part of Sand Life. These will be everything from harrowing and shallow ploughing in order to thin out the vegetation, to large-scale excavations of the uppermost, nutrient-rich layer of soil.
3. Burning as a conservation measure
Burning is a conservation measure that can be used in order to both restore and manage many types of land. By burning old grass and twigs in early spring, the pH of the ground is increased, a certain amount of nutrients go up in smoke, some of the plants’ seeds more easily germinate following their exposure to heat of the fire, heather is rejuvenated and patches of exposed sand are created.
Halland is an area where burning has traditionally been used frequently and where there is extensive experience of the use of burning in conservation. Suitable weather is required for conservation burning. Spring days on which the weather is suitable are few, it is therefore necessary to be completely prepared so that is possible to make use of these days.
Over the course of six years, 70 different burns will be conducted in 16 different areas as part of Sand Life.
4. Walking tours and information meetings
By meeting directly with all those affected and who are interested in our sand dunes and heaths, we can increase their understanding of biodiversity and also improve the chances of there being abundance of flora and fauna in the future.
Therefore, Sand Life will provide people with the opportunity to enjoy these areas, improve their knowledge and discus different aspects of preservation at a total of some 100 information meetings and about 70 guided walking tours in the 23 areas that are included in the project. Be on the look-out for walking tours taking place near you!
5. Outdoor museums
In order to increase understanding of flora and fauna in our sand dunes and heaths, outdoor museums will be set up in various Natura 2000 areas as part of the Sand Life project. Outdoor museums are permanent exhibitions that are accessible for visitors to the outdoors. In the exhibition they can read about different ways of experiencing the natural world and about its preservation, in the local area, as well as in a wider context.
As part of Sand Life, 12 different outdoor museums will be place in 10 of the Natura 200 areas that are included in the project. Be on the look-out for these around Skåne, Halland and on Öland.
6. Publications, including the website
Information about the project, about sandy habitats, about their flora and fauna and about specific areas will be available throughout the project period. Be on the look-out for information that can be ordered from those of us here at Sand Life or downloaded from this website under the ‘materials’ tab.