Tens of hundreds of Christmas timber are buried on a seashore close to Blackpool.
Some stick out of the sand in plain sight, others are buried beneath metres of sand dunes – precisely the place they’re alleged to be.
Every February for 2 days, tons of of locals descend on the seashore wielding spades. They spend hours digging trenches within the sand after which fill them with previous Christmas timber, buried as much as their backside branches. The subsequent time the wind blows, the timber will catch grains of sand of their branches and start to rebuild Lancashire‘s final remaining dunes.
It takes six months to a yr to construct new dunes with this technique, a course of that may take tons of of years in nature. The annual Christmas tree burial has fully modified the panorama alongside the seashore – what was as soon as flat is now hilly, lined in grasses and residential to round 500 sand lizards.
Paul Whitehead works at Blackpool Zoo and has been digging these trenches yearly for the final decade. He seems over to the dunes that at the moment are so tall they obscure the city behind.
“Some of these dunes that have been created in the past 10 years, I might have helped to build them.”
He shortly stops chatting so he can get on constructing the ditch, which is showing at a powerful fee. This yr, round 150 volunteers have planted greater than 4,000 donated timber in simply two days.
Sand dunes assist to guard us from the ocean. As nicely as performing like a windbreak for something behind them, they’ll additionally cut back the ability of waves hitting the shore throughout huge storms.
As sand is swept off the dunes and into the ocean, it may possibly type sand bars within the water, which make waves break offshore as an alternative of the seashore. And then, as soon as the storm has handed, the dunes can rebuild themselves utilizing the sand that was swept out, prepared to guard us once more subsequent time.
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But this pure sea defence is disappearing. Development, coastal erosion and folks utilizing the sand in trade have all pressured the dunes into retreat. Fylde Council now bears the accountability of getting Lancashire’s solely remaining sand dunes, and ranger Andy Singleton Mills takes care of them. He says the sand dunes are essential for Fylde.
“They’re a brilliant soft sea defence, they protect all the houses of St Annes and Lytham further down the coast. And they’re also a rich cultural feature – they’ve been here for hundreds of years and they protect so much wildlife.”
The Lancashire Wildlife Trust runs the undertaking with the council and the Environment Agency. Although they are not the primary to attempt utilizing Christmas timber to construct sand dunes, that is now the longest-running undertaking prefer it within the UK. The impression it has had is spectacular – in a single decade, they’ve constructed 90 metres of dunes down the seashore.
“Before we took over as a project about 10 years ago, there was no sand dunes here at all, so you’d be able to see right the way through to the road,” says Amy Pennington, who runs the undertaking for the Wildlife Trust.
“We’ve put in lots of rows of Christmas trees that are now buried and will have all decomposed – they’re now part of the sand dune system. It’s 90 metres of improved coastal defence, but also 90 metres of improved habitat for the wildlife that lives here too.”