Many stretches of Britain’s coasts retain much scientific, scenic and recreational interest. This is obvious when compared, for example, with some of the grossly over-used coastlands of southern Europe, as Steers (1970) points out. Yet threats to the coasts of this country, as others, are bafflingly diverse, so that while protection is achieved on some fronts, deterioration accelerates on others.
Unlike hard rocky shores, sand dunes and salt marshes contain a large hinterland which is inherently coastal, and found nowhere else. These are fragile areas, built up over thousands of years, and containing their own unique assemblage of topography, soils, plants and animals, influenced by local climate and water table. This fragility means that apparently small changes induced by man or natural causes can have a great effect on this coastal environment. The ease with which it can be manipulated has resulted in sand dunes being affected by many different factors over the years. These are detailed below.