Reestablishing naturally functioning dunes on developed coasts

Karl Nordstrom, Reinhard Lampe, Lisa M. Vandemark

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The potential for reestablishing dune habitat is investigated in municipalities in New Jersey, USA, where natural coastal landforms and biota have been eliminated or reduced in extent. Dunes are classified using width, relationship to natural and cultural features, and changes through time, and they are assessed for their value as naturally functioning landforms in developed municipalities. The relationship between size and longevity that exists under natural conditions is altered by human activity. Small dunes on privately owned lots can survive as long as larger dunes in natural areas that are located farther inland, and foredunes repaired using sand fences and earth-moving equipment can survive where they could not under natural conditions. Common beach management practices reduce the ecological values of coastal dunes. Mechanical beach cleaning eliminates incipient dunes, habitat for nesting birds, seed sources for pioneer dune colonizers and food for fauna, and artificially small, stabilized foredunes reduce the variability in microenvironments necessary for biodiversity. Recent initiatives for reducing coastal hazards, protecting nesting birds, and encouraging nature-based tourism provide incentive for the development of a restoration program for beaches and dunes that is compatible with human use. Suggested changes in management practice include restricting or rerouting pedestrian traffic, altering beach-cleaning procedures using symbolic fences to allow for aeolian transport while preventing trampling of dunes, and eliminating or severely restricting exotic species. Landforms will be more natural in function and appearance but will be more dynamic, smaller and in a different position from those in natural areas. Research needs are specified for ecological, geomorphological and attitudinal studies to support and inform restoration planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-51
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution


  • Beaches
  • Coasts
  • Dunes
  • Recreation
  • Restoration
  • Wildlife habitat

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