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Coastal Zone and Dunes

Coastal zone

Coastal ecosystems include intertidal zones, eelgrass meadows, estuaries, lagoons, barachois, salt marshes, mudflats, beaches, cliffs, shores, and dunes. In some coastal systems, there are several successive dunes. These protect the interior of the land from erosion. Property damage is often caused by storm surges that eat away at the dunes when they are weakened by lack of vegetation.

Coastal dunes

Dune Formation

Dunes are formed by the action of wind and waves depositing sand on the coast. The accumulated sand is gradually covered by several layers of vegetation at different stages of growth. Shaped by the force of wind and waves, dunes and beaches are constantly moving. This cycle, which varies with each season and year, is part of their natural process.

The vegetation on the dunes is of fundamental importance. With their roots, they hold the sand in place and prevent the dunes from eroding. Thanks to them you can enjoy our beautiful sandy beaches.

Dune protection and restoration

Dune protection and restoration is a priority for Vision H2O. Since 2005, the group has been using dune restoration techniques (marram grass plantation, Christmas trees, snow fencing) in order to conserve our dunes and improve some that are degraded. This helps educate and raise awareness of the importance of the dunes and to develop partnerships with community associations.

Recycled Christmas trees are placed at the foot of the dunes
Recycled Christmas trees are placed at the foot of the dunes to form barriers that will help sand to accumulate on the beach. The materials used are biodegradable.

The project aims to conserve dunes and coastal areas to protect habitats such as wetlands, salt and freshwater marshes, forests and the infrastructure behind them. Coastal dunes are important and act as natural barriers or breakwaters that protect us from waves and storm surges. They also serve as habitat for several plant and animal species.

Marram grass
With its stabilizing properties, marram grass (dune grass) allows sand to accumulate because its long roots (rhizomes) help retain sand. It is therefore essential for maintaining dunes and protecting them during storms.
Wrack, eelgrass, algae and debris
Wrack (eelgrass, algae and debris) play their role in stabilizing the shoreline by contributing to the formation of dunes. They are a habitat and a food source for the fauna of the coastal zone.
Coastal dunes

Here are some good habits to practice when visiting the coastal zone.

  • Follow the instructions and notices on the signs.
  • Use the sidewalks and paths marked to get to the beach.
  • Protect the marram grass and other plants by staying on the beach while visiting.
  • Avoid disturbing birds near the dunes.
  • Use the garbage cans or take your garbage home.

Learn more about dune protection and restoration

Efforts to protect the dunes must be done collectively. Watch this video demonstrating dune restoration activities by residents living near Nicholas Beach.

The living shorelines method

The Living Shorelines Method - The Living Shorelines approach uses living plants and biomass to protect coastlines from erosion. This approach also improves the health of our coastlines by helping to stabilize coastal ecosystems and creating habitat for native species.

Several videos have been produced for coastal restoration projects in the region with Helping Nature Heal. Vision H2O has participated in these projects and received funding from the NBETF.