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Efforts to conserve Mayo’s sand dunes being escalated

Posted on June 27, 2024

The Mayo-based Climate Action Regional Office, in collaboration with partners, is leading the coordination of a public awareness campaign to highlight the importance and fragility of sand dune systems as natural coastal protection and important habitats.

Sand dunes play a critical role in coastal protection.

Sand dunes can shelter inland habitats from the sea, preventing coastal flooding and mitigating the worst impacts of storms.

They also help slow beach erosion; sand deposited in the dunes can be “stored” and serve as a source to maintain the beach in the future.

Moreover, healthy dunes provide habitats for rare and specialized wildlife, such as toads, lizards, butterflies, and tiny orchids, which rely on the shifting sands and dune slacks to survive.

Tom McDonnell of the Climate Action Regional Office Atlantic Seaboard North said: “Damage to our sand dunes is evident all around the coast.

“Despite dunes being tough and protecting us from coastal storm events, the dune grasses and plants are very fragile and the public need to be advised of activities that can damage our sand dunes, including trampling on the dunes, sliding down the dune face, wild camping and campfires, sports training, and roaming dogs.

“We can protect them by staying off the dunes, keeping to designated pathways and camping areas, following the direction of local signage, and watching wildlife from a distance.

“We call on the public to help protect the dunes by enjoying the beach responsibly. The increased tourism and recreational use of our beaches, while welcome, needs to be managed in a way that respects and protects these natural assets.”

The Protect Our Dunes campaign will continue to raise awareness on social media, to convey the importance of our sand dunes to coastal resilience and biodiversity, how they can be easily damaged from recreational activities, along with simple measures to preserve them.

Preserving and strengthening natural coastal defences, such as sand dune systems, is crucial for increasing our coastal resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Countries like the Netherlands are investing in protecting and restoring their sand dunes as a cost-effective alternative to hard coastal protection measures.

The 2024 campaign will launch at the Celebration of Beaches and Dunes Event at Strandhill Beach, Sligo, tomorrow (Tuesday) and be visible on social media throughout the summer months.

Supporting information, videos, and communication toolkits for coastal communities are available on

This campaign connects to the work being undertaken as part of the LIFE on Machair project and the Community Training Programme for Beaches and Dunes under the Community Climate Action Fund and World Sand Dune Day, June 29, which highlights the global importance of conserving these vital coastal habitats.


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