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Research at Edge Hill University has advanced fundamental understanding of the roles of climate change and human activity on coastal dune vegetation disturbance and dune field evolution. The research has informed institutions and policy makers involved in coastal dune management in Spain and the UK, impacting management practices and raising broader public awareness around preservation of coastal dune environments.



Coastal dunes are one of the most important components in coastal resilience as they protect inland areas from sea water flooding. Research on coastal dune evolution helps to inform clear strategies for managing coastal environments as approaches to managing coastal dunes differ markedly depending on the driver for dune change.


Initial research in 2013 helped quantify the growth of dune vegetation and proposed a method to differentiate between ‘natural’ versus ‘artificial’ changes. This research was met with a favourable response from regional coastal dune managers and led to a grant from Natural England.

Together with researchers from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, coastal landscapes were mapped and assessed in terms of their ability to act as buffers against flooding and erosion in the UK and Spain.



The research has contributed to increasing understanding of coastal dune processes and evolution, and effecting change to coastal dune management approaches, including controlling visitor pressure and avoiding direct engineering interventions.

Through a series of workshops, Edge Hill University have brought together new collaborations of Universities in the UK and abroad. They have also engaged with local communities for example by sharing educational resources with local schools. 

A critical commentary highlighting the limitations of management interventions in coastal dune processes has driven significant management decisions at the National Park Bahía de Cádiz and coastal dunes in Mallorca.

Recommendations by the team and collaborators have led to multiple benefits at one of the most significant arid coastal dune fields in Europe: the Maspalomas dune field (Gran Canaria).


More information

Institution: Edge Hill University

Researcher: Professor Delgado-Fernandez 


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How to cite

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Coastal dune evolution and management. Available at:  Last accessed on: <date>


Featured image: Annie Spratt / Unsplash