Berrow Dunes Local Nature Reserve (LNR) lies within the much larger Berrow Dunes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It borders the Bridgwater Bay National Nature Reserve which was designated under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland habitat of international importance and special protection area. The sand dune systems as found within the LNR are rare, both on a national and local scale and contain a wide variety of coastal habitats which support a diverse range of flora and fauna.
Berrow Dunes supports one of the most diverse floras in Somerset, with at least 270 species of flowering plant being recorded on this site. The local nature reserve is also one of the best sites for moths and recently 3 rare species were recorded including the Pinion Spotted Pug Moth last recorded in Somerset in 1868!
In 1992, Sedgemoor District Council entered into a management agreement with English Nature, to secure further protection and restoration of the dune system within the Council's ownership. this part of the dunes was subsequently designated a Local Nature Reserve in 1993 and conservation works continue to take place.
The Reserve is actively managed by Sedgemoor District Council, English Nature and Berrow Conservation Group, in order to provide an attractive area for people to visit and to maintain and enhance its important habitats.
The LNR also fulfils an important role in providing an educational resource for local schools and other interested groups. A 'Resource Pack For Schools' has been designed for use by primary schools and is targeted at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. It includes background information for teachers and activities which can be undertaken in the field, or back in the classroom after a visit to the Reserve. The activities relate to several subject areas, including Mathematics, Science, Geography, Art, Music and Dance.
For further details regarding the Education Pack please refer to the Landscape contact details.
The partnership, set up in 1992, between Sedgemoor District Council and English Nature, has focused primarily on revitalising the ecological interest of the dune habitats. A management plan was drawn up which identified the threats to the different habitats within the Reserve and a programme of remedial work is currently underway.
This work has concentrated on cutting down large quantities of mainly Sea Buckthorn scrub and then treating the stumps with an approved herbicide to limit their regrowth. Since its introduction less than a century ago, the Sea Buckthorn has spread out over about half the reserve, leading to the loss of much of the species-rich grassland habitat.
Scrub clearance has also taken place alongside the footpaths, to widen the paths and prevent "trenches" developing (which can encourage erosion). The footpath routes have been waymarked, in order to direct pedestrians to the beach and to improve public access throughout the Reserve. This work has been undertake with the help of the Somerset Wildlife Trust and Conservation Volunteers.
The sand dunes are essentially robust, but they are at risk of being damaged by the trampling they receive from the large number of visitors during the summer months. Visitor pressure has dramatically affected the stability of the foredunes, particularly at the northern end, by the access road to the beach. Vehicular traffic has been actively discouraged from the dunes by the wooden bollard barriers along the dune edge. Where erosion has occurred within the foredunes, branches of Sea Buckthorn and other cleared scrub have been placed, to allow sand to accumulate, thus encouraging the processes of dune formation.
The management plan identified that a lowering of the water table had occurred in recent years which led to some of the ponds drying out. A number of ponds have now been excavated, in the hope that water will remain in them all year round.
A car park, situated opposite Sandy Glade Caravan Park, Coast Road, Berrow, is provided for visitors and links to the waymarked footpaths around the Reserve. Alternatively access to the Reserve may be obtained from Berrow Beach. Public transport by bus, is also available from Burnham-on-Sea and Weston-Super-Mare to Berrow stopping at Heron House, at the southern edge of the Reserve. Interpretation panels explaining the different habitat types have been installed in the car park and at other places within the Reserve.
At each season of the year, the LNR is different. However, the natural interest will be greatest if you visit this area on a warm, windless day in June or July.
Would all visitors to the Local Nature Reserve please follow the Country Code;
Guard against all risk
Keep your dogs under close control
Clear up dog mess
Keep to the paths
Take your litter home
Do not pick wild flowers
Horse riders, please keep to the bridleways
For your safety
At low tide, it is not advisable to walk towards the sea. The mudflats can be very soft, the tide comes in very quickly and there are strong, offshorecurrents.