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Sand dunes
The information presented here has been written by Ted Brambleby, Adventure Education,
Marine Environments Field Study and Resource Centre, Hastings Point Beach, NSW

The beauty of sand dunes, more than just skin deep,
but that is where it all starts ....

Take time to observe your skin under a magnifying glass then ask yourself why the familiar yet strange landscape of interconnecting valleys, tall leafless trees and deep salt pits is so vital to the life we know. For one thing it prevents us from dying up. Secondly it allows the workings of the inner body to proceed in a protected stable environment. Thirdly it protects the vital interplay of tissues, rivers of blood, masses of muscle and electric cables of nerves from infection by parasites, Bacteria and viruses, which if not for the skin, would reduce us to sickness, death and dust in a very short time. Think how vulnerable a burns victim is when their skin is destroyed. Why is this?

Next time you stand on a beach look at the mesmerising stretch of white sand disappearing into the distance. The colour of the ocean and the long raised line of vegetation that separates these primordial, harsh seemingly empty environments from the living tapestry of khaki and green protected behind it. Now understand that those "useless" mounds of good for nothing scrawny spreads of vegetation called sand dunes are in real terms invaluable.

To the creative eye these zones in their pristine state can convey some of the most starkly beautiful and artistically inspiring images on earth. Our coastal dunes are in fact the very skin that serves not only to protect our landward eco systems from the ever present ravages of beach and ocean but provides the very basis for their origin and evolution of our coastal forest heritage. Their natural capacity for repair and re newel like sharks teeth "a skin derivative" are continuous and non exhaustive.


Casuarina Primary Sand dune binding

Function of dunes

Fore dunes act as Barriers against the action of waves, tides and salt wind and are a source of sand for the beach during periods of erosion. Their colonisation and consolidation by plants gives them a flexible function as sand traps and self consolidation after exposure to heavy storm waves. Fore dunes that are densely vegetated protect hind dune habitats and promote more complex and diverse plant communities.

Secondary and tertiary dunes are the products of uninterrupted succession. These provide further protection and the establishment of those critical ecological conditions conducive to promoting the most stable of all stages the coastal climax forest dominated by advanced flowering plants such as eucalypts, coastal apple and tuckeroos.


Next - Humble beginnings - The infant dune and its journey   

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The beauty of sand dunes, more than just skin deep, but that is where it all starts
Function of dunes
Humble beginnings - The infant dune and its journey
Sand is made from 2 sources
Key members of nature's green dune squad and their significance
Beach Life Zones
Food Webs on Coastal Beaches
Skin Care Stategies or Dune Management


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