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Abermenai to Aberffraw Dunes are a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), including Newborough Forest and Warren.

Sand dunes are important because they provide habitat for highly specialised plants and animals, including ones which are rare and endangered.

The Abermenai to Aberffraw dunes are located at the southern end of the Menai Strait in Anglesey and Gwynedd. They are a SAC because of the important and mixed dune habitats and associated plants and animals.

Most of Newborough Forest and all of Newborough Warren are located within this SAC.

The problem

Over the last few decades sand dune systems across the UK have become increasingly stable. This is when bare areas of sand get smaller because of vegetation growth. The loss of bare sand is a problem for the specialised plants and animals which rely on them.

There have been concerns about dune stabilisation in this area. There have been discussions for some years on how best to manage the site, which is of great importance for nature conservation, tourism, forestry and recreation.

Recent work

In 2012 the Countryside Council for Wales (now Natural Resources Wales) commissioned research on 10 dune sites in Wales to investigate best methods for dune rejuvenation. This work provided proposals for selective felling and dune re-mobilisation and associated hydrological monitoring in the Newborough area of the SAC.

On the basis of those proposals more detailed plans were drawn up for trial works in small areas along the dune frontage at Newborough.

In mid 2013, we carried out a review of the proposals. The works included:

  • monitoring water levels in the ground
  • enlarging areas of bare sand 
  • removing some trees and ground covering plants

The review concluded that the works are:

“measured, balanced and proportionate, focused on restoring Favourable Conservation Status to the Abermenai to Aberffraw Special Area of Conservation”.

In 2014 the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) carried out a review of scientific evidence that had been presented to us by various groups.  The advice we received from JNCC reflects the consensus of the four UK Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations. It provided Welsh Government with a clear steer on the outstanding matters related to proposed works. Following careful consideration of the advice we have concluded that the review of the scientific basis of the work programme outlined in Newborough’s Forest Management Plan (FMP) is now complete.

Newborough Way Forward

Natural Resources Wales is taking an integrated approach to managing the land they manage. In the past at Newborough there have been separate plans for different aspects of the site. Now, Natural Resources Wales has the opportunity to build on these and develop one over-arching, long-term Natural Resource Plan for places like Newborough. Stakeholder engagement and collaboration is a very important part of this process. The new, over-arching plan will be progressed in the context of the developing Area Statements and the new duty under the section 6 of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.

Natural Resources Wales (external link) manages land at this site and advises us on nature conservation.

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Review of proposals 2013-2015 (File size: 330KB)