Sand is taken, the path becomes deeper and wider[2].

Sand dunes are
common features of shoreline environments. Sand dunes provide habitat for
highly specialized plants and animals,
including rare and endangered species. They can protect beaches
from erosion and re-stabilise eroded beaches. Dunes are threatened by human
activity, both intentional and unintentional. Coastal dunes are highly
sensitive to human activity, for example, in the last 30 years, mainly because
of tourism, nearly 75% of the Mediterranean’s coastal dunes have been damaged
or destroyed1.
Smaller impacts of human activity involve trampling, the construction of
footpaths and off road vehicle tracks. More significant human impacts on sand
dunes are the construction of roads, housing and water works along the coast. Footpath
erosion is caused by the extensive trampling of vegetation and soil. The
process of path erosion can be split into four main steps: there is no
footpath. There is extensive vegetation and the roots help bind soil particles
together; foot traffic compresses the soil, causing the soil particles to be
tighter together and go downward, creating a shallow gulley on the ground. This
has two effects. It allows less rain to be absorbed into the ground, because
the soil is tight, and it causes the rain to follow the path because the path
is the lowest point. Soil particles wash away, more vegetation dies, less roots
now exist and it becomes easier for even more soil to wash away; all vegetation
in the path has died. A deeper gulley forms, exposing rocks and more dirt. A
deeper gulley leads to more water following the path, worsening the process; deepening
continues. At this point, the exposed rocks begin to make the path more
treacherous. This leads to people avoiding the middle of the path and walking
along the edges, where there is still vegetation. This process continues on the
edge of the paths, and unless action is taken, the path becomes deeper and
wider2.

 

 

Theoretical Context-

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Studland Bay contains a series of protected
and non-protected dunes, this is ideal for measuring and comparing dune
profiles, in addition the honey-pot site offers an ideal location to record
erosion due to the high levels of visitors it attracts every year, during peak
summer times the bay can reach 25,000 visitors per day3.
The high levels of tourism make the beach a safe environment for an
investigation to be conducted, furthermore the beach is an easily accessible
location, with the addition of a short ferry crossing from Sandbanks to the
Studland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve. Additionally, the
Studland area is within a close enough proximity for it to be accessible with
relative ease, therefore making it the ideal location to measure the impact of
tourism and the extent to which the measures imposed at Studland Bay reduce
erosion from human activity.

 Studland Bay’s 5km of sandy beach
is a popular tourist destination, owned and managed by the National Trust since
1982.  It is characterised by an extensive ridged dune system that has
developed since 1700 and forms a key site for coastal geomorphology studies.
Behind the dunes lies Godlingston heath, a National Nature Reserve as well as a
SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).  Studland Dunes are the only
large dune heath site in the south and south-west of Britain and provide an
important habitat for rare butterflies, insects and all six of Britain’s
reptile species, including the endangered sand lizard. In addition,
Studland also contains other important wildlife habitats including intertidal
mudflats and a saltmarsh.

 

Links to Specification

The investigation is linked to the specification through
Coastal Landscape (3.1.3.3) – the origin and development of landforms and
landscapes of coastal deposition; beaches, simple and compound spits, tombolos,
offshore bars, barrier beaches and islands and sand dunes. As well as the
factors and processes involved in their development. In addition it is also
linked to Ecosystems in the British Isles over time (3.1.6.4) and the effect of
human activity on succession.