Shingle on the Cusp
Vegetated shingle is an incredible habitat which tells the story of how nature battles the elements to create fantastic diversity in the harshest of settings. From yellow horned poppies to Sussex emerald moths, it is home to a range of highly specialised and in many cases extremely rare plants and animals some of which are found on Dungeness and nowhere else in the world!
Listed below are the key achievements with this project. Please click on the green bars to reveal information on what has been achieved to date.
Key achievements to date include the successful installation of the brash pile trials in the RSPB Dungeness and MoD Lydd Ranges sites – we are trying to see if using brash in this way helps promote establishment of specialist shingle plants on areas of bare shingle. The experimental plots have been surveyed over the last few years and the indications are that brash does help plants to get established more quickly. We have yet to complete the analysis of the data but our current thinking is along two lines – firstly that the piles act as windbreaks which catch seeds on the wind, making them fall to the shingle where they are able to germinate and secondly that the brash has a shading effect which allows more moisture to remain in the shingle for longer into summer which helps the plants to grow.
We have also been working hard with the RSPB over the last couple of years, to control various invasive plant species which threaten the unique flora and fauna of the Dungeness reserve. The key ones we have targeted were Red Valerian (Centranthus rubra) in 2019/20 which was hand-pulled by volunteers as well as being cut – this produces lots of windblown seeds and has a tendency to dominate other plant species. In spring of 2021 we got to work on 4 hectares of Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides) which had become the only plant and was growing in dense thickets on sand and gravel – clearing this will allow the important community of mosses, lichens and other low ground flora to re-establish.
The project has also produced a leaflet – Gardening by the sea. This leaflet provides some handy hints on how to get the best out of your garden whilst helping nature to thrive in coastal environments and was sent out to all houses in the Greatstone and Littlestone areas in 2019. We hope that this has encouraged householders to consider what species they plant in their gardens and which plants to avoid as they could become invasive.
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This is a one stop shop for all you’ll ever want to know about living with or visiting shingle and dune habitats for locals and for visitors. The resource provides practical advice on issues affecting your area. Click here for more information.
What you plant in your garden can have a lasting effect on the landscape around you. The Gardening by the sea leaflet provides some handy hints on how to get the best out of your garden whilst helping nature to thrive. Follow the Gardening by the sea link to view the leaflet.
Shingle on the Cusp project contributes to the Restore project theme.