Fylde Sand Dunes Project

Fylde Sand Dunes Project

90 % of Lancashire's sand dunes are in Fylde
80 % of our sand dunes have been lost over 150 years
6 hectares of increased dune habitat since 2008
20 new dune slacks created to increase biodiversity
40 % decrease in non-native scrub
6,500 + volunteer hours contributed
10,000 + people engaged in events
500 + people attended guided walks
3,000 + Students involved in our Beach School Programme
400 + Sand Lizards reintroduced to our dunes
11,000 Christmas trees buried on the beach to build dunes
60 + metres of cumulative dune growth since 2013

Over the past 150 years, more than 80% of the sand dunes in Lancashire have been lost

The Fylde Sand Dunes Project is a partnership between The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, Fylde Council and Blackpool Council, currently exclusively funded by The Environment Agency until 2022. This project works hard to encourage visitors to the dunes in a way which does not further threaten their existence, whilst letting people know all about the amazing wildlife that lives in this special place.

We are also working to improve the dunes as a sea defence feature; increasing their width by encouraging natural dune growth on the foreshore. The dunes act as a natural barrier to the sea at high tide, and release sand during storm conditions to reduce wave action. 

With the help of volunteers and the local community, the Dunes Project aims to make the dunes a better place for both wildlife and people.


The main aims for management of the Fylde sand dunes are to:

  • Enhance the nature conservation interest of the coastal habitats
  • Improve the efficiency of the dunes and saltmarsh as soft sea-defence
  • Enhance public appreciation and enjoyment of the dunes
Fylde Sand Dunes Montage

Project partners & funding

Based on the Fylde coast, The Fylde Sand Dunes Project is a partnership between Fylde Council, Blackpool Council and The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside. The project is currently exclusively funded by The Environment Agency until 2022. 

The Fylde Sand Dunes Project
Fylde Sand Dunes Project Partner Logos

Habitats and wildife

The range of conditions in a sand dune habitat supports a surprisingly rich variety of plants and wildlife that are well adapted to their environment.

There are over 280 vascular plant species recorded on the Fylde sand dunes, including several internationally rare plants which are endemic to sand dunes in the UK, including the interestingly named Isle of Man cabbage.

Insects are numerous and varied in the dunes, with over 150 species of butterflies and moths recorded. The Fylde dunes are also home to breeding birds including stonechats, skylarks and reed buntings. 

Fylde Sand Dunes Wildlife Mix

Flood Defence

The dunes are not only important for wildlife and recreation, they are also crucial for their flood defence properties. The dunes act as a natural barrier to the sea at high tide, and release sand during storm conditions to reduce wave action. The aims of the Fylde Sand Dunes Project feed in to the Environment Agency's Shoreline Management Plan (SMP2); a non-statutory, high level policy document for coastal flooding and erosion risk management planning.

North Beach - Fylde Sand Dunes Drone Shot ©Jack Bradshaw

Practical conservation

The project carries out regular practical conservation methods on the dunes which includes:

  • Controlling invasive non-native species (INNS)
  • Repairing the dunes by thatching and filling blow-outs (weak spots in the dunes)
  • Developing pathways to create recognisable access points and reduce damaging dune erosion
  • Creating dune slacks to encourage a greater diversity of wildlife
  • Erecting posts, chestnut paling fencing, and burying recycled Christmas trees on the foreshore to trap wind-blown sand and create new embryo dunes.
  • Planting dune grasses to anchor sand particles so sand is not blown away from the dune system
Fylde Sand Dunes Project Volunteers ©Brian Jones

Christmas tree planting

Each new year, we recycle old Christmas trees to provide improved coastal defence against sand and sea for residents of Lytham, St Anne’s and Blackpool. The Christmas trees play a vital role as the branches and pines from the trees stick out of the beach towards the prevailing wind direction and trap sand particles as they drift ashore, helping sand to accumulate and eventually build new embryo dunes.

The trees are donated to various drop off points along the Fylde coast and are then used to create sand dunes on the foreshore of the local beaches. The annual Christmas tree planting event occurs every year, and is usually a three-day event taking place at the beginning of February. Look out for the event in our events section.

Christmas tree planting with the Fylde Sand Dunes Project ©Jack Bradshaw

Community engagement and education

We want to encourage both visitors and residents to feel a sense of ownership of their local coastline. The project offers an outreach programme delivering public engagement and education in the form of:

For more information about our outreach programme please get in touch via email.


Fylde Sand Dunes Project Outreach Montage
Fylde Sand Dunes Project Outreach Montage

Living Seas North West

sand dunes walk

Get involved

We hold regular volunteer work parties tackling everything from scrub removal to litter picks - there's something for everyone to get involved with!

We also run a series of free guided walks around the Fylde Sand Dunes. We're relaunching these for 2021 but dates may change depending on current COVID-19 restrictions. Do check our Facebook page for updates.

Sunday 1 August: 11am - 1pm
Sunday 5 September: 10am - 12pm
Sunday 3 October: 10am - 12pm
Sunday 7 November: 10am - 12pm
Sunday 5 December: 10am - 12pm

Contact us

For information about volunteering with this project, please contact:

Catherine Haddon
T: 01772 318 374
E: chaddon@lancswt.org.uk

sand dunes funder logos