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Williams, A.T., Davies, P.: Coastal dunes of Wales; vulnerability and protection. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 7: 145-154, 2001.


Abstract. The coastal dune systems of Wales fall under a range of conservation designations from Sites of Special Scientific Interest to National Parks. A checklist system has been applied to selected major systems (> 50 ha) to assess the vulnerability of individual sites and to measure of the level of protection introduced at these locations and to compare this with their conservation status. 26 systems were surveyed and analysis consisted of structured use of a rating scheme to assess the environmental condition and range of protection measures existing at each site. This included the following categories of information: Site and beach morphology, Beach condition, Surface character of the seaward 200 m of the dune system, Pressure of use and Recent protection measures. The percentage of the maximum possible rating for each category of information was calculated and summation of the above information gives a Vulnerability Index (VI) which ranged from 23.8% to 65.1%. A Protection Measure Index (PM) was also calculated and this ranged from 13.6% to 68.2%. It should be noted however, that low PM scores do not necessarily mean inappropriate management strategies. A VI/PM ratio was calculated and systems with a ratio in the range of 0.8 -1.3 are regarded as having an equilibrium relationship between vulnerability and protection; sites with values < 0.8 are out of equilibrium because they are highly protected and those with a ratio of > 1.3 are out of equilibrium because they are under protected. An alternative, descriptive categorization of the vulnerability relationship was also derived from the data and dune systems were categorised as 1. Low vulnerability - Low response, 2. High vulnerability - High response, 3. Low vulnerability - High response or 4. High vulnerability - Low response. The structured checklist approach improves the levels of objectivity in dune vulnerability measurement and it can provide a useful basis for pro-active management of these coastal environments. Overall, Welsh sand dune systems seem to have achieved a level of protection which matches the level of vulnerability identified by the objective measures of the checklist survey. There appears to be little difference between the level of vulnerability/protection and the type, or number, of conservation designations at the dune site.

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