Fears have been raised about the extensive erosion of sand dunes — which has been accelerating dramatically in recent months — at one of Ireland's premier tourist locations.
Up to 9m (30ft) of sloping dunes have disappeared at Inchydoney beach, near Clonakilty, Co Cork in as many years leaving cliff-type dunes which are a safety hazard.
Storms prior to Christmas took large chunks out of the remaining dunes. Locals are so concerned about the dunes' demise and the effect it will have on wildlife, some of it unique to the area, that they've set up an action group — Inchydoney Dunes Conservation Project (IDCP) — to address the situation.
“We're concerned about the destruction and loss of habitat on the dunes from recent storms and high tides,” IDCP co-chairwoman Clodagh McGuirk said.
"We need to identify the root causes of the rapid erosion and we hope to develop a plan to conserve the dunes in the most appropriate and sustainable way."
“We want everyone to continue to enjoy Inchydoney in all the various ways that they do, with an awareness that we must protect the dunes from irreversible erosion,” she said. "We believe everyone can play their part in conserving the dunes.
Co-chairwoman Dena O’Donovan said they're encouraging the involvement of schools, local clubs and other community bodies in the project.
“We need to wake up to the fact the dune system won’t regenerate itself without a little help from us all. We don’t want to stop people using the dunes, but we need to investigate putting in amenities like walkways so people actually see the dunes regenerating,” she said.
Cork South-West TD Christopher O’Sullivan said inspiration for the project came from Castlegregory on the Maharees near Tralee Co Kerry, where a local voluntary group formed to restore dunes there.
“Everyone loves the dunes, but there’s also been a lot of alarm over their state over the past year,” he said.
It's expected IDCP members will hold talks shortly with council engineers on the issue.