Cornwall's sand dunes

Sand dunes provide a fascinating introduction to wildlife, coastal processes and cultural interactions. They can be a valuable educational resource for all ages with a huge diversity of plant species and animals. Sand dunes are perfect for demonstrating the effects of a variety of past and present land uses and are often rich in history. Easy examples can be found to illustrate many biological and geographical principles, such as sand movements, sea level change, human impacts and natural succession.

The links on this webpage are full of interesting information about the many different dune sites in the county; how they formed; what they are made of; the rich and varied history and wildlife; uses of the dunes by people; and the often innovative management techniques adopted to protect Cornwall's amazing natural asset.

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Follow the links below for more information:

Introduction to Cornwall's Sand Dunes

The Shifting Sands: How Dunes Form / Shapes and Sizes / Sand Cycles / Little and Large / Sea Level Change / Water on the Dunes

Wealth of Wildlife: Plants of the Dunes / Natural Succession / The Diversity of Cornish Dune Habitats / Strandline-Embryo Dunes / Mobile Foredunes / Semi-Fixed Yellow Dunes / Fixed Grey Dunes / Dune Slacks / Dune Scrub / Woodland / Rare Plants on the Dunes / Plant Adaptations for Life on the Dunes.

Wealth of Wildlife: Animals on the Dunes / Important Animals on Cornwall's Dune.

People and the Dunes: Tourism and Recreation / Sand Extraction / Agriculture / Industry / Military Activity / Religious Worship / Coastal Defence / Natural Succession / Sea Level Rise / Climate Change / Invasive Species.

The Management of Cornwall's Sand Dunes: The Balancing Act / Management Planning / Conservation in Action / The Shifting Sands / People Power / The Heavy Hand of the Law / Its a Minefield Out There / Preserving the Past / Controlling the Aliens / A Scrubby Feast .

If you decide to visit a sand dune system whilst visiting a beach please remember to follow the sand dune guideline, which is:

  • Some sensitive or recovering areas of sand dune are fenced off. Please do not climb the fences to access these areas.
  • Please avoid straying from footpaths as you may accidentally damage plants and disturb wildlife.
  • Please do not use any vehicles (bikes, motorbikes or 4x4's) in the dunes. Please only cross them on foot.
  • Please do not camp in the dunes and start bonfires in them. These activities can easily damage the dunes.
  • Be a responsible dog owner and clean up after it. Dog mess can provide too many nutrients in the sand leading to the spread of unwanted plants.
  • When visiting a dune or beach please take you litter away with you and leave only footprints.  

Wildlife Websites:

Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Wildlife Trusts