Sand Dune and Shingle Network: linking science and management
Submitting InstitutionLiverpool Hope University
Unit of AssessmentGeography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology
Summary Impact TypeEnvironmental
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Sociology
Summary of the impact
Coastal dunes are one of the most threatened habitats in Europe, and are
in need of urgent conservation. North West Europe is one of the most
important areas for vegetated shingle worldwide, and the UK is especially
important. The Sand Dune and Shingle Network has helped to change the
understanding, policies and practices relating to these habitats in the
UK, and in Europe through the creation of knowledge exchange opportunities
in a diverse stakeholder environment, by working with and for NGOs. This
allows statutory conservation agencies to deliver research, consultancy
and policy guidance.
This case study presents the outcomes and impacts of an initiative which
began in Liverpool Hope University in 2006 using the Higher Education
Innovation Fund (HEIF).
The establishment of a `Dune Network' was first proposed at the European
Dune Symposium in Leiden in 1987, the proceedings of which were published
as van der Meulen, F., Jugerius P.D. and Visser, J.H. (1989) Perspectives
in Coastal Dune Management, SPB Academic Publishing. This led to the
launch of a European Union initiative for Dune Conservation and Coastal
Management (EUDC). The EUDC was supported by a newsletter `Eurodunes'
which was published until the early 1990s by the University of Oldenburg.
This initial meeting in Leiden was followed by dune conferences in
Seville, Spain in 1989 and Galway, Ireland in 1991. These three events
developed an informal and loose network of practitioners and academics,
and the proceedings of the conferences contained contributions from
members of the current Sand Dune and Shingle Network and contained many
valuable reports. These are still relevant today for the study of aspects
of dune ecology, geomorphology and management.
In 1993 the interests of the EUDC were broadened to consider a wider
agenda based on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), and this was
eventually transformed into what is now the NGO known as the Coastal and
Marine Union (EUCC) and based in The Netherlands. This meant that there
was no longer a dedicated European or UK national resource for sand dunes,
and the capabilities of this informal and loose network was not utilised.
Established in 2006, the Sand Dune and Shingle Network sets out to help
raise awareness of the threats to coastal dunes and shingle and to
encourage networking, exchanges of experience and cooperation within and
between various sectors. Its primary geographical focus is the United
Kingdom, but it is also active across Europe through an emerging European
Dune Network (EDN). It has global reach.
In 2008 the Network organised an international conference entitled,
`Changing perspectives in coastal dune management', the proceedings of
which were published in 2010 as a special edition of the Journal of
Coastal Conservation; Planning and Management — Volume 14, Issue 2.
As the overarching purpose of the Network is to link science and
management, its activities are action-orientated and, as such, it outputs
and outcomes are reflected in this approach. Amongst its productions, the
Sand Dune and Shingle Network has published dune management models for the
European Commission, and, in order to help bridge the gap between science
and management, it established an accessible `Occasional Paper' series
that reviews the latest scientific research in a newsletter published
three times per year. All are available to download free of charge at the
Network's web site
References to the research
Houston J., Rooney P. and Doody P. (2009) The conservation and
management of coastal vegetated shingle in England: report of the
meeting at Salthouse, North Norfolk 18th September
2008. Sand Dune and Shingle Network ; Occasional Paper No. 1.
Liverpool Hope University Press. ISBN 978-1-8987-749-03-5 Available at http://coast.hope.ac.uk/images/Shingle%20Report.pdf
Rooney P. (2010) Changing perspectives in coastal dune management. Journal
of Coastal Conservation; planning and management. 14 71-73
Details of the impact
The Sand Dune and Shingle Network is based within the Geography
The aim is to conserve sand dunes and shingle as dynamic landscapes. The
network seeks to achieve this by:-
- Encouraging people to value and understand the habitats.
- Championing the habitats.
- Facilitating an exchange of knowledge and support actions that are
- Making the Network an active community of participants, and a
recognised source of expertise and authority at the global level.
The initiative builds on the results of networking, highlights projects
and publications, and develops opportunities for conferences, study tours
and workshops. The Network also took the lead in developing, and operates
as part of, a European Dune Network and works closely with the Coastal and
Marine Union (EUCC), the largest European coastal NGO.
Formal support for the establishment of the European Dune Network was
given by the EUCC Council at its meeting in April 2010. Agreed aims are
- Promote the sustainable use and management of coastal dunes.
- Support policies and actions that conserve the intrinsic natural
values of coastal dunes.
- Develop a vibrant European network of communities concerned with
coastal dune use and management.
- Support the advancement of knowledge and understanding of coastal
- Provide an international platform dedicated to coastal dunes
These aims reflect concerns that coastal dunes remain threatened habitats
The Network currently includes, many of the following groups: site
managers; national policy makers; students and researchers; biodiversity
officers; ecologists; geomorphologists and hydrologists. It is currently
expanding the membership to include coastal engineers, golf course
managers, tourism interests, forestry interests, military sites and
landscape historians. The Network operates by sharing information across
different sectors/disciplines and links science and management. The common
interest is the natural resources of coastal dunes and shingle, and a
desire to find sustainable solutions to conservation issues. The Network
encourages members to be active and to participate in discussions and
By September 2013 the Network had over 270 full members, and distributes
a newsletter published three times each year to about 500 contacts
worldwide. It has established an `Occasional Paper' series through which
network events are recorded and disseminated. Copies of these publications
and newsletters are free to download from the Network web site at http://coast.hope.ac.uk/
The Network team, principally Paul Rooney as the Director and John
Houston as the Project Officer, has co-ordinated and delivered a number of
outputs leading to improved understanding and/or management of coastal
habitats. Examples include:-
- Paul Rooney was commissioned to present ecological evidence for the
statutory agency — Scottish Natural Heritage — at the Public Local
Inquiry held between June and July 2008, which was relating to Donald
Trump's development of a golf course on Menie Links, Aberdeenshire. The
Report to the Scottish Ministers by the Directorate for Planning and
Environmental Appeals is available at
(see also Stewart Angus section 5). This decision is seen a watershed
for the future of coastal dune management, has wide implications for
environmental planning and decision-making.
- As the Network Project Officer based at Liverpool Hope, John Houston
was commissioned by the European Community to produce dune management
models for fixed grey dunes and dune slacks in 2008. These management
models impact upon dune policy and practice across Europe and are
available to download at
- Network staff are invited members of the England Coastal Biodiversity
Integration Group, chaired by Natural England and attended by a range of
statutory bodies, research agencies and NGOs. The Network is identified
as the `Dune and Shingle Champion' in this group.
- During 2009, the Network team at Hope were commissioned by the
statutory agency `Countryside Council for Wales' (CCW) through contract
number 053 TSG 08 for a project `A study to assess stakeholder support
for implementing a programme of dune re-mobilization on selected dune
systems in Wales'. The results of this study led to a countrywide
programme of dune re-mobilization, and have assisted CCW (now natural
Resources Wales) to re-position itself with regards to its approach to
- In March 2012 a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between Natural
England (statutory agency) and the Sand Dune and Shingle Network at
Liverpool Hope to provide a `Sustainable Dune Management' on-line
internal publication. This provides a suite of tools for use by Natural
England Advisers to enable more effective responses to casework on sand
dune SSSIs, and to improve the quality and effectiveness of their advice
on strategies and schemes for coastal management.
Sources to corroborate the impact
- Senior Environmental Specialist: Coasts — Natural England
- Principal Specialist: Coasts and Water — Natural England
- Policy and Advice Manager (coastal ecology) — Scottish Natural
- Coast and Marine Advisor — The National Trust