Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 31–52 | Cite as

Implications of sea level rise for coastal dune habitat conservation in Wales, UK

  • Samantha E. Saye
  • Kenneth Pye


The potential impact of future sea level rise and climate change on 15 Welsh coastal dune systems has been investigated. Historical Trend Analysis was undertaken using Ordnance Survey maps to quantify past shoreline change and to permit extrapolation of past trends to predict possible future shoreline positions by 2080–2100. Predictions were also made using the Bruun Rule relationship between sea level rise and shoreline response and an integrated method of assessment, Expert Geomorphological Assessment (EGA), which provides a ‘best estimate’ of future coastline change, taking into account such factors as geological constraints, the nature of past, present and future environmental forcing factors, and known coastal process–response relationships. The majority of the 15 systems investigated experienced a net increase in dune area over the last 100–120 years. Only one (Whiteford Burrows) experienced significant net area loss (>5 ha). EGA predictions suggest that several systems are likely to experience significant net loss of dune habitat over the next century, whilst continued net gain is likely to occur for systems where sediment supply rates remain high. Little net change is predicted in some systems. Considering the 15 dune systems together, it is considered unlikely that net dune habitat loss will exceed net gain over the next 100 years provided that there are no major disruptions to sediment supply and natural coastal processes.


Bruun rule Climate change Historical trend analysis SAC Expert geomorphological assessment Coastal dunes Sea level change 



Chart datum


Drift potential


Expert geomorphological assessment


Future change extrapolation


Highest astronomical tide


Historical trend analysis


Mean high water


Mean high water spring


Mean low water


National nature reserve


Candidate special area of conservation


Special protection area


Sites of special scientific interest



This paper is based largely on research commissioned by the Countryside Council for Wales. We thank Dr. Rod Jones and other CCW staff for data provision and helpful comments at various stages of the work. Thanks are also due to Dr. Simon Blott for assistance with preparation of some of the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Crowthorne Enterprise CentreKenneth Pye Associates LtdCrowthorne, BerkshireUK

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