I used to live in lots of dune habitats all across the UK, where I was an important part of life in the dunes: my grazing would keep grassland short and by digging my burrows, I would keep patches of sand bare and encourage sand movement through the dunes.
Rabbits used to be a very common sight in the coastal sand dunes of England and Wales, as rabbits are happy grazing and burrowing in the soft sandy soils. In the 1950s a disease called Myxomatosis killed huge numbers of rabbits very quickly, meaning that there were a lot less rabbits in the dunes. These sand dunes have become more and more stable, in part because there are less rabbits grazing and keeping vegetation growth in check. Dynamic Dunescapes is helping to encourage rabbit population numbers to grow again and is even reintroducing rabbits in some areas where they have disappeared, as they are an important part of keeping a sand dune system dynamic and diverse.
By munching on vegetation, rabbits keep plant growth fairly low, which can help some of our rare native plants flourish. By burrowing, they also keep bare sand moving through the dune system.
Rabbits are generally nocturnal, but will come out of their warren in daylight if it’s sunny and there aren’t too many people or dogs around. They can be spotted on the Sefton coast and Cumbrian coast, at Studland in Dorset, and across our sites in Wales at Anglesey and Gwynedd, Carmarthenshire and Swansea.
Dynamic Dunescapes will be conducting rabbit population surveys, creating new areas of bare sand for rabbits to create new burrows in, ensuring that other dune conservation activities stay away from rabbit burrows, and in some places, reintroducing rabbits where populations have disappeared.
Projects protecting Rabbit
Anglesey and Gwynedd
Our work in the areas of Anglesey and Gwynedd covers 1000 hectares of dunes and is led by Natural Resources Wales, working with National Trust, local authorities, Wildlife Trusts, Plantlife and private landowners. We will be working at, Cymyran, Tywyn Trewan, Tywyn Llyn, Tywyn Fferam on Anglesey, and Morfa Bychan in Gwynedd.
This area is a particularly important home for plants; over 250 species of flowering plants, nearly 20% of all plant species found in Wales, can be found here. This project will rejuvenate 47 hectares of sand dunes at Pembrey Burrows Local Nature Reserve (LNR). Our work in Pembrey is led by Natural Resources Wales, working with Carmarthenshire County Council and Plantlife.
Our work on the Cumbrian Coast takes place across many different sites; Grune Point, Silloth Dunes, Drigg Dunes, Eskmeals, Haverigg, Roanhead, Sandscale Haws, North Walney including West of Airfield, and South Walney. The project is led in Cumbria by Natural England, working with Cumbria Wildlife Trust and National Trust.
Our work on the Dorset coast is taking place at the beautiful and historic Studland coast, part of the new Purbeck Heaths NNR. The project here is led by National Trust
Our work on the protected Sefton Coast takes place across the vast sand dune system, including at Ainsdale Sand Dunes NNR (led by Natural England) and Formby (led by National Trust).
Swansea, Neath and Port-Talbot
Our work in the area will occur at Baglan Burrows, Crymlyn Burrows, Pennard Burrows, Penmaen Burrows, Oxwich dunes and Broughton Burrows, and 21 hectares of sand dune will be restored or recreated during the project. Dynamic Dunescapes work in Wales is led by Natural Resources Wales, working with National Trust, local authorities, Wildlife Trusts, Plantlife and private landowners.