Technical ReportPDF Available

Abstract

The project has been very successful, despite the problems and difficulties associated with the work to restore natural systems that are so dynamic. The coordination between the various administrations (Autonomous Regions and Councils) that manage the Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) of the Cantabrian coast has made it possible to carry out important work, the results of which are already quite visible. However, there is still a lot to be done and there are several coastal dune systems in northern Spain that require similar action. The experience acquired and the mechanisms to achieve the change towards the improvement of the state of conservation of the dunes have been quite successful, which encourages the continuation of these synergies. Once the restoration has been completed, basically with soft bioengineering techniques, the factors that caused the loss of the state of conservation must be kept under control. This task must be carried out by the competent authorities; and, only if this goal is achieved, nature itself will keep on acting until the dune system and its dynamic processes are completely recovered. Life+ARCOS has made some proposals regarding the future management and improvement of the Natura 2000 network areas included in the project. In addition to the ordinary, periodic tasks that should be carried out, such as the maintenance of the fences and the running of follow-up invasivespecies-control campaigns, it is necessary to constantly monitor the evolution of the restored dune systems. For that purpose, some follow-up cards have been prepared, to be completed once a year. They will serve as a tool to monitor the actions that are undertaken, which will make it possible for the specialists of the administrations involved in the management of these protected areas to know how the dune areas evolve and decide whether it is necessary to implement new measures that ensure the survival and optimum state of conservation of these valuable, beautiful natural ecosystems, which are prized and enjoyed by the population.
The project has implemented direct conservation actions on site to improve the quality of dune habitats 1210, 2110,
2120 and 2130* in 10 Special Areas of Conservation of the Natura 2000 network in Asturias, Cantabria and the
Basque Country. In addition, some ex-situ conservation activities have been carried out in order to have plant
material that helps to stop the loss of biodiversity. In the implementation of the Action Plans drawn up for all the
areas, the preparatory studies on the evolution and dynamics of the dune systems, as well as the results of the
germination and cultivation tests conducted on the threatened species used in the restoration, have been taken into
account. The fight against the alien invasive species in these environments has also played a relevant role in the
project as a whole. The direct conservation actions that have been implemented are:
Different entities have participated in the development of Life+ARCOS. This way, the scientific knowledge has been
directly transferred to the people in charge of making decisions regarding the protection of the natural environment.
The Institute of Natural Resources and Spacial Planning (INDUROT) of the University of Oviedo has taken care of the
general coordination of the project and the Ministry of Ecological Transition, through the Directorate-General for
Coast and Sea Sustainability, has facilitated action in areas of the Maritime-Terrestrial Public Domain, providing
some species for their ecological restoration. The government of Cantabria, through the Directorate-General for
Biodiversity, Environment and Climate Change, as well as the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, both entities being
responsible for the management of the Natura 2000 network, have coordinated and executed the conservation tasks
in their respective territories. The Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, through the Arizmendi nursery, has also provided
some plants to increase the biodiversity of the dune ecosystems in that territory. The Aranzadi Science Society has
supported and provided scientific advice for the implementation of the direct conservation actions in Gipuzkoa and
Bizkaia; and, lastly, the Ecologia Litoral company, with broad experience in the restoration and rehabilitation of dune
systems, has taken care of the development of a large part of the measures taken in Asturias, Cantabria and Bizkaia. Dune habitats are deteriorating in a large part of the Cantabrian coast. It is mostly caused by human activity, which
has turned the areas formerly occupied by the dunes into inhabited areas. Although the tourist pressure does not
reach the levels of the Spanish Mediterranean coast, it does have a negative impact on the Cantabrian coastal dunes,
as they are natural transit areas to the beaches. Finally, the effects of climatic change on the mean sea level, the
increasing frequency and severity of the wave storms and the proliferation of alien invasive species are also
responsible for the deterioration of our dunes.
Coastal dunes are not homogeneous in their composition and structure. Both edaphic conditions and dune species
vary as we go from the beach line inland and move away from the influence of the sea, giving rise to different types
of habitats. On the Cantabrian coast, it is easy to recognize, at least, these four types of dune habitats included in
Annex II to the Habitats Directive of the European Union, whose state of conservation has improved thanks to the
action taken through the Life+ARCOS project:
How many types of dunes
are there on the Cantabrian coast?
What has the Life+ARCOS project involved?
In situ and Ex situ innovative
combined techniques for
coastal dune habitats
restoration in SCIs
of northern Spain
(LIFE13 NAT/ES/000883)
Main objective:
Restoration of coastal dune habitats 1210, 2110, 2120
and 2130* in Atlantic areas of the Natura 2000 network
in Spain
Duration:
5 years (2014-2019)
Total budget:
€1,327,816
EU funding - LIFE program: €945,428 (75%)
Coordination:
University of Oviedo
Areas of action:
The project has been put into execution
in 10 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)
of the Natura 2000 network:
Asturias: Penarronda-Barayo SAC (ES0000317), Cape Busto-
Luanco SAC (ES1200055) and Vega Beach SAC
(ES1200022).
Cantabria: Liencres Dunes and Pas Estuary SAC
(ES1300004), Puntal Dunes and Miera Estuary SAC
(ES1300005), and Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes
SAC (ES1300007).
Basque Country: Barbadun Ria SAC (ES2130003), Urdaibai
coast and marshes SAC (ES2130007), Urola Ria SAC
(ES2120004) and Iñurritza SAC (ES210009).
Coastal dunes are sand accumulations generated by the wind,
in close connection with beaches, that are home to very fragile and
special vegetation communities. They have an important role in the
protection and conservation of the shorefaces and of the beaches themselves.
What are
coastal dunes?
The sea level is rising and the climatic change forecasts show an
increase in the frequency and intensity of the extreme waves, the effects
of which are already visible on our Cantabrian coast. The most significant
consequences of these changes are the increase in the number of areas
easily flooded by the action of the sea and the migration of the coastline
towards the continent, including the erosion of the beaches and dunes,
which will try to find their space by going inland. Nevertheless, the
reaction of each dune depends on other factors; particularly, artificial
factors, which have various effects on the Cantabrian dunes. Therefore,
at the initial stage of the project, a team of geomorphologists from the
University of Oviedo carried out a historical and current diagnosis of the
sedimentary balance of each site, which has been considered when
planning the restoration action.
¿FOTOS?
Table of objectives and results
Why is it necessary to conserve
the Cantabrian dune systems?
Action
C1
Removal
of the non-native
tree cover from
the dune system
Action
C2
Control
and removal
of alien invasive
species
Action
C3
Installation
of sand traps
to promote accretion
processes
Action
C4
Installation of fencing
to protect the dune habitats
and rearrange the traffic
towards the beach
Action
C5
Planting
of structural
species
Action
C6
Planting
of species to promote
biodiversity
increase
Who has taken part in Life+ARCOS? In situ and Ex situ innovative
combined techniques for
coastal dune habitats restoration
in SCIs of northern Spain
(LIFE13 NAT/ES/000883)
Habitat 1210
Annual vegetation
of drift lines
Habitat 2110
Embryo dunes Habitat 2120
White dunes Habitat 2130
Grey dunes
The most visible effect of the deterioration of coastal dune habitats is the loss
of their native biodiversity, which occurs as a result of the replacement of the
species proper to these environments by others, often of invasive nature.
In Life+ARCOS, habitat improvement action has been combined with ex-situ conservation
techniques, ensuring the availability of genetic material for environmental restoration if the
coast were to suffer severe destruction. The germplasm banks of the Atlantic
Botanical Garden and the Gipuzkoa Council keep seeds of 36 dune species,
collected in the Special Areas of Conservation where action has been taken.
In order to ascertain the best conditions for nursery germination and
multiplication of these species, 21 of such species underwent some
laboratory germination testing and the morphometric characterization.
Anticipating the loss
of biodiversity
A receding
coastline
OBJECTIVE A
To contribute to the restoration, improvement and maintenance of the types
of habitats and species of interest to the community found on the coastal dunes
1] Restoration of 50 ha of habitat 2130* Fixed
coastal dunes with herbaceous vegetation ('grey
dunes')
[2] Restoration of 65 ha of habitats 2120 Coastal
mobile dunes with Ammophila arenaria (white dunes)
and 2110 Embryo mobile dunes
[3] Removal of at least 250 pine trees from the Barayo
dune system (Asturias)
[4] Protection of the dune systems from treading by
installing 5000 m of fencing with posts and rope
[5] Collection and short-term conservation of
germplasm (seeds) of, at least, 28 species existing
in dune habitats 2110, 2120 and 2130*, to ensure
their availability in restoration action
[6] Over 500000 marram grass (Ammophila arenaria)
and sand couch-grass (Elymus farctus subsp.
boreoatlanticus) specimens planted with the purpose
of favoring the sedimentary dynamics of the dunes
[7] Definition of cultivation protocols for, at least, 10
species to be used in planting action. These protocols
will be incorporated into the results of the parallel ex-
situ conservation "Phoenix" project
[8] Development of germination protocols for, at least,
15 rare or threatened species and publication of the
results in the open database of the European Native
Seed Conservation Network (ENSCONET)
The state of conservation of a total of 61 ha of this priority habitat has been improved,
by acting on the main affections that were worsening its state of conservation:
excessive traffic and high presence of alien invasive species (AIS). The means of
access have been rearranged, especially in Vega beach, Liencres, Somo, Berria,
Helgueras and Santiago; and an important campaign has been conducted to remove
alien invasive species. In addition, some species, such as common shrubby everlasting
(Helichrysum stoechas) and others included in the regional catalogues of protected
species, have been planted.
The conservation status of a total of 66 ha of white dune and 12 ha of embryo dune has
been improved. Fencing has been installed in front of the dune front and the existing
fences have been moved forward several meters to enable the arrival of floatsam wrack
and prevent treading in that area. Instructions were given to avoid raking the area
during the cleaning, and some structural species (marram and sand couch grasses)
were planted throughout the dune front, in addition to other species proper to these
habitats. Also, the plantations included within the framework of the project were
adequately signposted.
In addition to Barayo (Asturias), the action has been extended to the dune systems of
Liencres (with no direct funding from the LIFE project) and Somo (Cantabria); La Arena
and Laga (Bizkaia); and Santiago (Gipuzkoa). A total of 442 specimens of maritime pine
(Pinus pinaster) have been removed. In Barayo, the whole tree (over 300 pine trees) and
shrub cover existing in the dune system has been removed. In Liencres, Cantabria, all the
maritime pines have been removed from a 3 ha area. 47 specimens of these species
have been removed from the vicinity of Somo and 87 from the Santiago beach in Zumaia.
A total of over 11 kilometers of fencing were installed throughout the dune systems.
With these physical protective systems or fences, of different types, depending on the
needs of each area, the dunes have been protected from uncontrolled treading. The
plantations were signposted with lines of treated-wood posts and a variable number of
ropes (1-3). More restrictive fencing has been installed in those areas with a larger
number of tourists and, therefore, more treading, made of wooden posts and hunting
mesh, with different spans and materials. This has made it possible to organize traffic
in several dune systems, preventing the proliferation of paths and the resulting
associated erosion, thus favoring the recovery of their grass covers.
31 dune species have been conserved in the germplasm banks of the Atlantic Botanical
Garden and the Gipuzkoa Council, collected in the years 2014 and 2015.
Around 400 thousand specimens of marram grass (Ammophila arenaria) and sand
couch-grass (Elytrigia juncea subsp.boreoatlantica) have been introduced into almost
all the dune systems. These plantations facilitate sand retention and enable a faster
recovery of the vegetation cover. In addition, almost 65 thousand specimens of
species to increase biodiversity have been planted.
Different cultivation methods were tested on 18 dune species and a report was
prepared with the results obtained. The tests, which combined different types of
substratum mixtures and different types of containers, were conducted at the nurseries
of the Atlantic Botanical Garden and Fraisoro, dependent on the Gipuzkoa Council.
Germination tests were conducted on 21 dune species and a report was prepared with
the results of those tests. The document includes morphocolorimetric
characterization data of the collected seed lots and information regarding the origin of
the accessions.
OBJECTIVES RESULTS
OBJECTIVE
To contribute, with the results, to the six-year plans proposed to maintain
and/or restore the favorable state of conservation of the habitats and species
of interest associated with the coastal dune ecosystems of the Atlantic Bioregion
B
10 action plans were prepared to improve the dune systems in the 10 special areas of
conservation where action was to be taken. The results of the preliminary studies on
the sedimentary dynamics were taken into account, as well as the proposals made in
them. The plans were revised by the administrations with competence regarding the
conservation of those areas, who made several interesting modifications.
The simple and detailed follow-up cards for the 11 dune systems where work was
performed have been completed. In these cards, there are two types of protocols to
assess the state of conservation of the dune systems and the evolution of the
conservation action that has been taken. The protocols include the photographic
follow-up of different points, sampling plots and transects.
[9] Preparation of action plans for the recovery of the
selected dune systems
[10] Follow-up plan to study the state of conservation
of the restored sites, extendable to the remaining
coastal dunes in northern Spain and, with
modifications, to the remaining dune systems in the
Atlantic bioregion
OBJECTIVES RESULTS
OBJECTIVE
To contribute to the prevention, control and eradication of alien invasive species
C
OBJECTIVE
To promote society's participation in the programs
for the conservation and recovery of habitats in Sites of Community Importance
(SCIs) of the Natura 2000 network, improving the governance policies
D
A total of 74.5 ha have been treated, completely removing or controlling the growth of the
alien invasive species. For such purpose, alien invasive flora removal campaigns have
been conducted in all the areas and there have been further annual campaigns in a lot of
them. Over 30 invasive species have been removed manually, such as Carpobrotus sp.,
Oenothera sp., Arctotheca calendula, Pittosporum tobira, Cortaderia selloana,
Tropaeolum majus, Senecio angulatus, Senecio mikanioides and Yucca gloriosa.
Sometimes, specific herbicides have been required and, other times, heavy machinery
has been used. In addition, eradication of Spartina patens was attempted by covering it
with opaque materials (plastic and/or geotextile covers), which yielded good results.
11] Removal of alien invasive flora in over 75 ha
of dune systems in northern Spain. There will be
further removal campaigns in order to solve the
problem in the medium term
OBJECTIVES RESULTS
Volunteer actions and awareness-raising campaigns have been carried out in several of the Natura 2000 network areas.
In most areas, events were held to celebrate Natura 2000 Network Day and the 25th anniversary of the LIFE program.
We should highlight the continuing work of the AMICA, SERCA and AMPROS volunteer teams, who, in collaboration with
the Cantabrian Rural Development Network, have taken part in several campaigns to remove alien invasive species in
Cantabria; as well as the NACAR program, in which several inmates of the El Dueso prison are involved.
In terms of dissemination, the following has been generated: 1 website, 6 project banderoles, 2 rollers, activity in 2
social networking sites: Twitter and Facebook, over 100 mentions in the press and around 20 in television and radio
programs, 22 project information boards in three languages, 1500 T-shirts, 2500 folders with information about the
project, over 1300 signs on fences to warn of the action being taken, over 20 voluntary work activities and over 700
surveys conducted in the areas of action.
Training activities have been carried out aimed at the general public and at specialists of the administrations
responsible for the management of areas of the Natura 2000 network. A total of 4 workshops have been organized
(with EUCC-France in 2016 for specialists of the DG for Coast and Sea Sustainability, with EUCC-Atlantique in 2017 and
through the “Adolfo Posada” Asturian Public Administration Institute in 2018), as well as 2 specific seminars in
Santander and San Sebastian; and results were presented in over 10 national and 4 international conferences.
Participation of LIFE ARCOS in UNIOVI activities, such as "researchers' night", the Campus COP25 program and
conferences on success in European research. Interrelation with other LIFE projects, such as CONHABIT Andalucía.
12] Simultaneous celebration of
the International Environment
Day in the places where LIFE
actions are carried out, with the
participation of volunteers in
planting actions
[13] Courses and meetings to
teach dune restoration
techniques aimed at the
administration, NGOs and the
general public
OBJECTIVES RESULTS
There are not many dunes in the Bay of Biscay. They are, in general, small and endure high use pressure, because,
as they are not very large, users are more concentrated. Some decades ago, human activity had very severe impact,
as parking lots, bars, hotels, apartments and even whole housing developments were built on them. These practices
ruined, often permanently, large dune areas.
Taking out sand was also common practice in the past, and it was an additional factor that contributed to the reduction
and alteration of their surface. Most of these uses are now forbidden, but they have left their mark on the sedimentary
balance of the coast. Other factors that have largely contributed, and still do, to the deterioration of the dunes are those
arising from massive use by tourists. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic on the dunes, increasing the number of paths
towards the beach and eroding the land, the use of the dunes to protect oneself from the wind while sunbathing (a
serious problem, particularly in small systems), the proliferation of alien invasive species and the occupation of the
grey dunes by Pinus pinaster pine forests (which used to be planted deliberately) are only a few examples of such
uncontrolled use.
In addition, these last decades, the erosive processes have been reactivated as a result of the increasing number of
wave storms and the sea level rise; no doubt, conditioned by the current global warming processes taking place in
our planet.
SOS Cantabrian dunes:
Why are they deteriorating?
Zarautz dunes (Guipuzkoa).
A large part of the dune system has been transformed
into a golf course and another part has been developed.
Nevertheless, it has been possible to regenerate
the front and the internal areas between the golf holes.
Layman report
Fencing system to protect the Helgueras
dune system (Cantabria).
It occupies the strip that is
closest to the sea, where the
floatsam wrack arrives. Its
vegetation is ephemeral,
under the effects of the
heaviest waves.
The first accumulations of
sand give rise to these
formations, where sand
couch-grass (Elytrigia juncea
ssp. boreoatlantica)
predominates.
They occupy the second strip of
dune vegetation. Here, the
effects of the sea are still very
strong and marram grass
(Ammophila arenaria ssp.
australis) predominates.
They are farthest from the
sea; their soil is more
compact, with more
organic matter; and they
are usually covered with
mosses.
Somo dunes (Cantabria)
severely affected by
the 2014 storms waves.
A geomorphologist
from the Institute
of Natural Resources
and Territorial Planning
(INDUROT) of the University
of Oviedo collecting
data in a dune system.
Positions of the dune front
Coordinating partner:
Graphic design and layout: Juan Hernaz · Printing: Gráficas Eujoa · Printed on paper · D.L.
Further information: www.arcoslife.eu / @infoarcoslife
Beneficiary partners:
Ecología
Litoral
Ministry of Ecological
Transition (Directorate-
General for Coast
and Sea Sustainability)
Government
of Cantabria
(Directorate-
General for
Biodiversity,
Environment and
Climate Change)
Provincial
Council of
Gipuzkoa
(Gipuzkoako
Foru
Aldundia)
Aranzadi
Science Society
(Zientzia Elkartea)
Ecología
Litoral L.C.
Map
legend
An invasive plant is one that has been introduced by man, intentionally
or accidentally, in a natural or seminatural ecosystem to which it does
not belong. This alters its native biodiversity, which worsens its
state of conservation. The European Biodiversity Strategy for 2020
has, as one of its six prime objectives, the fight against alien
invasive species. Coastal dune systems have ideal conditions for
the settlement of a lot of these species, so that controlling and
eradicating them must be a priority in these environments. Over 50
invasive species have been registered on the Cantabrian coast.
Hottentot-fig plants, redsepal evening primroses and Spartina patens
are one of the biggest problems to be dealt with.
Imitating nature
with the purpose of
restoring the dune systems
The main objective is to regenerate the native
dune plant communities. That is what most of
the ARCOS Life actions are aimed at.
The actions to restore the degraded dunes must be time-
coordinated for them to be effective. In Life+ARCOS, soft
ecological restoration techniques have been used, which, imi-
tating nature, facilitate and speed up the development of the
natural recovery processes. When the sand couch and ma-
rram grass populations disappear from the dunes, the dune
system loses two resources that are required to catch the
sand carried by the wind. Therefore, the first actions are fo-
cused on taking measures to enable these species to settle
again into the dune system to carry out their fixing function.
Some seeds of Cantabrian dune species were collected for their
conservation and use in restoration within the project, most of them
within the Natura 2000 network. This was done with the triple objective
of conserving seeds of the dune plants on a long-term basis in
germplasm banks (ex-situ conservation), of preparing and getting ready
the seed germination protocols, to learn how to obtain plants from them
and thus have wild plant material to be used in the conservation actions
that is original from the study areas.
The collection has been carried out by the members of the
teams of the University of Oviedo, Ecología Litoral and
ARANZADI; and the seeds have been stored in the
germplasm banks of the Atlantic Botanical Garden and the
Gipuzkoa Council. More than 100 accessions, of 31
different species, were collected in the 10 worksites and
in other nearby dune systems.
The Cantabrian coast is essentially rocky, and its dune systems are small
and fragile. They are inhabited by a good part of the rare and threatened
species included in the national and regional catalogues of protected
species. A number of coordinated actions have been implemented to
protect and restore those populations of threatened plants.
Firstly, different measures were implemented with the purpose of favoring the morphologi-
cal reconstruction of the dune ridges with signs of erosion. For that purpose, some resour-
ces were incorporated to facilitate sand collection, which is essential for the survival of du-
ne plants, such as dead plant barriers and sand traps. With this action, the sand carried by
the wind settles around the sand traps, the vegetation settles little by little, and a cover is
created, which will enable its fixing and balance.
In addition, all these actions were reinforced with the installation of various physical pro-
tective systems (fencing) to prevent one of the main factors causing erosion, treading
associated with traffic through the dune, from taking place again. This measure
helps the plants to settle properly after the stabilization of the surface.
How?
Collection of seeds
of Cantabrian dune species
How can these invasive species be controlled or removed?
We have the seeds, but...
do we know how to obtain plants from them?
Once sand accumulation is reactivated (by installing sand traps or
modifying the profile of the dune front) and erosion caused by trea-
ding is reduced (by installing fences), the next step is to quickly ins-
tall the plants that will form the plant armature that will structure
these communities of plants.
The dune species will colonize the dune area all by themselves.
Nevertheless, Life+ARCOS did some planting to expedite this pro-
cess. The two species that contribute the most to the structuring
and fixing of the sand are: sand couch grass (Elymus farctus ssp.
boreoatlanticus) and marram grass (Ammophila arenaria). The for-
mer has been planted in the dune front, where the embryo dunes de-
velop (habitat 2110), and the latter in a more internal contiguous
area, occupied by the white dunes (habitat 2120).
In areas such as La Arena and Barayo, the high presence of invasive
species made it necessary to remove them with heavy machinery
(excavators) and remodel the dune profile first. In other places, like
Somo, the storms of 2014, which had destroyed the dunes, made it
necessary to bring in some sand and shape it with machines. In a
few years, a significant cover of structural plants had been created
and the natural dune formation process had been recovered.
In addition to sand couch grass and marram grass, the structural
flora has been reinforced with Eryngium maritimum, Festuca rubra
and Koeleria. Around 400.000 plants of structural species have
been planted altogether.
Once the armature and structure of the dune had been ensured,
reintroduction and reinforcement began, with 65.000 plants of ot-
her more demanding species, many of them rare and threatened
(action C6).
Recovering
the plant armature of the dunes
Informing and involving
the citizens in what we do
Stopping the loss of biodiversity
The project has been very successful, despite the problems and difficulties associated with the
work to restore natural systems that are so dynamic. The coordination between the various admi-
nistrations (Autonomous Regions and Councils) that manage the Special Areas of Conservation
(SACs) of the Cantabrian coast has made it possible to carry out important work, the results of
which are already quite visible. However, there is still a lot to be done and there are several coastal
dune systems in northern Spain that require similar action. The experience acquired and the me-
chanisms to achieve the change towards the improvement of the state of conservation of the du-
nes have been quite successful, which encourages the continuation of these synergies.
Once the restoration has been completed, basically with soft bioengineering techniques, the fac-
tors that caused the loss of the state of conservation must be kept under control. This task must
be carried out by the competent authorities; and, only if this goal is achieved, nature itself will keep
on acting until the dune system and its dynamic processes are completely recovered.
Life+ARCOS has made some proposals regarding the future management and improvement of the
Natura 2000 network areas included in the project. In addition to the ordinary, periodic tasks that
should be carried out, such as the maintenance of the fences and the running of follow-up invasive-
species-control campaigns, it is necessary to constantly monitor the evolution of the restored dune
systems. For that purpose, some follow-up cards have been prepared, to be completed once a year.
They will serve as a tool to monitor the actions that are undertaken, which will make it possible for
the specialists of the administrations involved in the management of these protected areas to
know how the dune areas evolve and decide whether it is necessary to implement new measures
that ensure the survival and optimum state of conservation of these valuable, beautiful natural
ecosystems, which are prized and enjoyed by the population.
Long live the Cantabrian dunes!
We do from the most abundant structural species of the dunes (sand couch, marram grass, sea holly, sea daffodil,
etc.), because the Ecología Litoral company, one of the project partners, had gained broad experience at the Somo
Dune Nursery; but we had not worked much with other rarer and threatened species. With them (12 species), some
cultivation studies were carried out, and some protocols were prepared at the nurseries of the Atlantic Botanical
Garden and Fraisoro (Gipuzkoa Council). This has enabled the production of live plants of these species, which have
been used in the site restoration programs, reinforcing or reintroducing populations of these threatened species
(cottonweed, coastal medick, sea carnation, common shrubby everlasting, Galium arenarium, etc.), thus contributing
to the maintenance of the biodiversity of our dune systems.
False natural pine forests
on the Cantabrian coast
Maritime pines (Pinus pinaster) do not form natural
populations or forests on the Cantabrian coast. In
the 1950s and 1960s, this species was planted
widely in coastal scrubland and cliffs, because of its
quick growth and capacity to endure the littoral
conditions. It was even deliberately planted in the dune
systems to stop their inland advance and "fix" them, as was
the case in Liencres. Other times, the dispersal of seeds from nearby
plantations, as was the case in Barayo, Laga and Santiago, for example,
contributed to the spontaneous colonization by pine trees of large areas of white
and grey dunes, soon transforming the natural conditions of the dune system.
These changes took place in a very short period of time. In just two decades, as
the comparison of old and recent aerial photographs shows, a lot of dune
ecosystems located in areas where pine trees predominated were radically altered.
Once the pine forest grows, the native vegetation of the dune system disappears due
to the lack of mobility of the sand, the increasing shadiness and the larger amount of
organic matter. Under these new conditions, the dune species are replaced with other
species proper to forest environments. Therefore, the pine forests located on coastal sandy
areas of the Cantabrian coast are one of the most serious problems to be solved in order to enable the advance of
the dune inland and increase its resilience against climatic change.
In Arcos Life, over 4.000 meters of sand traps
were installed and 12.000 meters of fencing were
erected, to enable these processes and ensure
the survival of the plantations.
Fighting against invasive species
In situ and Ex situ innovative combined techniques for
coastal dune habitats restoration
of SCIs of northern Spain
(LIFE13 NAT/ES/000883)
C3-H
HELGUERAS
(Noja) V1
LA ARENA
(Muzkiz, Bizkaia)
G1
PLAYA DE SANTIAGO
(Zumaia, Gipuzkoa)
A S T U R I A S
C A N T A B R I A
P A Í S V A S C O
V2
LAGA
(Ibarraguelua,
Bizkaia) G2
ZARAUTZ
(Zarautz, Gipuzkoa)
A1
BARAYO
(Navia-Valdés)
A2
VERDICIO
(Gozón) A3
PLAYA DE VEGA
(Ribadesella)
C1
LIENCRES
(Piélagos)
C2
SOMO
(Ribamontán al mar)
C3-B
BERRIA
(Santoña)
In many cases, the presence of these species is so extensive that the objectives for the action
have been focused on controlling their expansion and reducing their capacity to generate seeds
that continue to invade the area. Most of these species are annual or biannual and they complete
their reproductive cycles in a short time. Their manual or chemical removal prevents them from
multiplying even more and reduces the problem of the seed banks generated on the ground.
Other species, some of them very large, have had to be removed by hand or with specific
machinery, to ensure their eradication from the area. This treatment has been very
successful with Hottentot-fig plants (Carpobrotus sp.); also with wattle (Arundo donax) and
Japanese pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira).
Barayo dune system (Asturias),
occupied by a pine forest,
before the start of the felling.
Watle
(Arundo donax)
Close view of
Crucianella maritima.
Close view of coastal
medick in bloom.
Sea holly seedling,
produced for the
restoration.
Medicago marina seedlings,
produced at the Fraisoro nursery (Gipuzkoa).
Volunteer day for the removal
of invasive "Hottentot-fig
plants" in
Verdicio,
Asturias.
Successful plantations
in the Somo dune system (Cantabria),
which had to be completely restored.
Installation of sand traps
on a blow-out in Liencres, Cantabria.
Extensive marram grass
plantations in Barayo,
in the areas where the pine
forest was removed.
Young coastal
lavender cotton
plants successfully
growing after their
reintroduction.
Volunteer day for the removal of invasive species
at Vega beach, Asturias.
Barayo beach and dunes (Asturias),
after the removal of the pine forest
and the restoration of the whole dune front.
Liencres beach (Cantabria), on a summer's day,
enduring massive use.
Euphorbia peplis, a scarce annual species,
of which some seeds were collected
for ex-situ conservation.
Evening primrose
(Oenothera sp.)
Yucca
Throughout the project's life cycle, a lot of work has been devoted to spreading and dissemination, in all types of media.
The website enables easy access to all the generated reports and documents, as well as to summaries of the main mee-
tings, seminars, workshops and news that have been published in newspapers, radio stations, television channels, etc.
A lot of volunteer days have been organized, many of them
as part of the activities to celebrate the European Natura
2000 Network Day. We would particularly like to highlight, be-
cause of their social nature, the ones that took place in
Cantabria with inmates from the El Dueso penitentiary
(NACAR program) and others in which social entities, such
as AMICA, SERCA and AMPROS, took part. There have also
been training workshops, some of them international, in co-
llaboration with entities such as the European Union for
Coastal Conservation (EUCC) and the AIMJB (Iberian-
Macaronesian Botanical Garden Association), as well as trai-
ning workshops for the staff of the public administrations in
Asturias. Synergies have been established with other LIFE
projects (LIFE-Miera and Life CONHABIT), and active part
has been taken in several international events, such as the
workshop organized by the ECNC (European Center for
Nature Conservation) and NEEMO in the Netherlands, and in
Dunkirk (France), organized by the Life+FLANDRE project. All
of them have had the participation of representatives of va-
rious projects financed by the LIFE program.
Finally, we would like to add the publication of 11 informa-
tion leaflets, specific for each area, summarizing the tasks
performed at each site, which were distributed in situ
among the beach users, while they were surveyed and infor-
med about the work carried out on each dune system.
TOTAL 11.78 66.02 61.32 442 74.55 3.9K 12K 390.6K 65K
Habitat 2120 Habitat 2130 Action C2
ha treated
Action C3
m of sand traps
installed
Action C4
m of fencing
installed
Action C5
Structural plants
incorporated
Action C6
Plant
to increase
biodiversity
0.9 1.2 0.5 300 3.75 0 1K 150K 20K
0.52 1.6 1.05 0 1.6 250 1.5K 92K 10K
0.58 1.74 1.87 0 3.5 850 1.2K 6K 1.1K
0.7 1.2 0.5 3 ha 30 550 687 11K 700
0.39 3.08 4.4 10 4 100 600 20K 7K
0.5 41.2 40.5 0 5.5 117 1.7K 22K 70
7.2 11.2 10.5 0 10.2 0 1.6K 790 100
0.29 1.2 0.5 0 2 600 1.6K 40.5K 14.1K
0.3 1.2 0.5 45 2 400 220 8K 7K
0.2 1.2 0.5 87 4 0 200 355 1.6K
0.2 1.2 0.5 0 8 1.1K 1.7K 40K 3.5K
ASTURIASCANTABRIA
BASQUE
COUNTRY
A1
A2
A3
C1
C2
C3-B
C3-H
V1
G1
V2
G2
Action C1
Pine trees or ha of
pine trees removed
Habitat 2110
Habitats restored (ha improved) Conservation actions
pine
trees
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