Dynamic Dunescapes Dune Management Case Study

Invasive Species (Sea buckthorn) Removal, UXO (unexploded ordnance) at Pembrey


Sand dune system:

Pembrey, South Wales

Case Study Subject:

The removal of unexploded ordnance and subsequently invasive species on site, followed by unplanned burning of removed materials on site

About The Dune System Habitat Management Intervention
Site Background Information:

Pembrey was formerly used by the military so there are potentially a large number of UXOs (unexploded ordnance) on site which need addressing prior to large scale works. This site also has areas of dense vegetation, and steep topography.

What was the issue/change you hoped to make?

There were dense stands of sea buckthorn (an invasive species in this area) that are growing rapidly and suffocating the dune system at Pembrey. These need removing so that the system can support specialist dune biodiversity.

What was the suggested intervention?

There are several methods of dealing with Sea Buckthorn, including pulling,  cutting and treating, and burying. In this instance the sea buckthorn was pulled using large machinery.

What did you do?

We undertook a desktop UXO study, and used on the ground film/pictures for UXO surveyors to come to a safe solution about how to deal with items found on site.

A method was agreed, and a detailed mitigation and methodology was provided by UXO specialists in a report prior to work; the UXO monitors were on site and surveying as contractors pulled the sea buckthorn using machinery, declaring areas safe. Remote controlled mulcher was used for softer work.

A desktop archaeology study was also completed.

How did you do it?

By following specialist guidance provided by UXO experts and archaeologists. Making sure machine contractors were experienced in this type of terrain/environment and made sure they provided good details on how they would carry out the work and that they would have to work alongside the UXO specialists and archaeology.

We also ensured that the contractors had suitable kit/machinery to carry out the work, and that good communication was maintained between machine contractor and specialists.

How was the site / intervention monitored?

Citizen science activities will be used to monitor the site: Fixed point photography, transect, quadrats in the cleared area.

What modifications, if any, did you make to your initial plan and why?

The method of removal modified significantly after discussion and a desktop study with UXO surveyors and contractors. The plan was to have sea buckthorn taken offsite for incineration/biomass. However, the wood was deemed too ‘contaminated’ so controlled burning on site of the removed buckthorn took place instead.

What issues arose and how did you overcome them?

Getting permission to burn the removed materials on site instead of taking it to biomass at the last minute was an obstacle. We had to ensure that all parties obtained permission and that the local fire brigade, MOD and Carmarthenshire CC was informed.

Engagement Measures
How were the public and others engaged?

Signage was put out before and during works. Due to the work being undertaken in a coronavirus lockdown it was decided that NRW would not make any press statement around the initial works.

Dynamic Dunescapes and NRW staff worked closely to put out a statement on social media when it was determined at late notice that burning of materials on site would need to happen, to make nearby communities aware of what they may see.

How were communities, volunteers or schools involved?

No groups were involved in the works or in large engagement efforts due to Covid restrictions.

Is the intervention working?
Please describe how. What has changed?

Yes, we now have more open sand. However, we will be monitoring the site later in the year to see if there is any regrowth. The monitoring will be ongoing to see how the intervention is working.

What could be done differently?

We would prefer not to have had the removed materials burned on site.

Dense sea buckthorn before works commenced
Dense sea buckthorn before works commenced
Contractors removing dense sea buckthorn
Contractors removing dense sea buckthorn
The site after dense sea buckthorn was removed
The site after dense sea buckthorn was removed
An area of low to medium sea buckthorn growth before works commenced
An area of low to medium sea buckthorn growth before works commenced
The area of low to medium sea buckthorn growth during mulching
The area of low to medium sea buckthorn growth during mulching
The area of low medium sea buckthorn growth and exposure of bare sand after works
The area of low medium sea buckthorn growth and exposure of bare sand after works