24th April 2023

Nature Based Solutions to Dune Erosion at Tyrella Beach

Part of Murlough Special Area of Conservation in Dundrum Bay, the wide expanse of Tyrella beach is a favourite destination within the Mourne Gullion Strangford UNESCO Global Geopark for locals and visitors alike. Behind the upper shore of the beach the 25-hectare sand dune system is suffering from the impacts of erosion. Newry Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) AONB & Geopark team are using nature-based solutions to address this.

The dunes are an important habitat for many species of plants and animals, but they also play an important role in protecting our coastline from the impacts of climate change, and specifically coastal erosion.

On the east coast of Ireland, with the local wave regime and soft, sedimentary coastline, coastal erosion is a common problem. This natural process can result in damage to infrastructure, property, and agricultural land loss.  The dunes act as a buffer between ‘land’ and sea.

The traditional solution to this issue, coastal armouring, can often lead to unanticipated consequences, such as loss of beach width and exacerbation of erosion further along the coast.

In view of anticipated increase in the rates and extent of coastal erosion as a result of rising sea levels and frequency of storms caused by climate change, UNESCO Global Geoparks like ourselves must work to mitigate against natural disasters including coastal erosion. By using more environmentally friendly or nature-based solutions defence options we hope to restore a natural resilience to our coast.

Dune Grass planting at Tyrella Beach

At Tyrella we are using sand fences, helped with some planting of dune grasses supplied by local seed conservation charity, True Harvest Seeds to secure the sands in the dune. The natural coastline is the best defence we have, we must work with nature to protect our coastline, reducing the impacts of increased storms, flooding and erosion events.

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