Christmas tree planting on Croyde Beach

Joseph Bulmer

Innovative scheme to protect sand dunes gets under way.

SCHOOLCHILDREN have been “planting” Christmas trees on Croyde Beach as part of an innovative project to prevent the sand dunes from being blown away.

The recycled trees have been sunk into the dunes at the top of the beach to act as wind breaks and hold back the sand, with marram grass planted between them to bind it all together.

The project is being led by Park Dean Holidays, which owns the beach and nearby Ruda Holiday Park.

Georgeham Primary School plus those of Caen, Southmead and Kingsacre in Braunton have been busy collecting trees after the festive season, as has the Agricultural Inn at Braunton and St John’s Garden Centre in Barnstaple.

The dunes are SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) but as well as the importance of helping to preserve them, the project has very real long term benefits in helping to turn back the sea and prevent flooding.

Norman Dennis at Ruda Holiday Park has been co-ordinating the new scheme and is delighted at the response, with more than 350 trees collected and even more coming in.

He thanked all those who had helped for their tremendous co-operation and said they now planned to make it an annual event to ensure the dunes could remain protected.

This year is the 75th anniversary of Ruda and it is also 10 years since Park Dean took over. The company has a David Bellamy Gold Award for its environmental work.

Park general manager Steve Harper-Smith said there were already areas of dunes where the sand was badly eroded: “If we don’t do something others will go that way as well, but rather than put everything out of bounds this is a nice temporary measure that is also kind to the environment.”