Welcome To
Acadia Broadcasting NewsThe Latest and Greatest ContentYour Trusted Local Source


Important to stay off of New Brunswick’s dunes

By Tara Clow Jul 24, 2023 | 1:36 PM

New Brunswick’s dunes are a first line of defence in protecting infrastructure.

Shediac Bay Watershed Association Executive Manager Jolyne Hebert says, “They create this natural wall that protects us from strong winds and storm surges when they are healthy and stable. Healthy stable dunes are covered in this Marram grass that has a very strong root system that keeps the sand in place. Even if a dune was to suffer some damage from a storm, having a big stable dune system, it usually has time to regenerate itself before the next one hits. That actually helps to protect our inland infrastructure and the strong winds. Dunes are also an important ecosystem for the natural species that live along our coastline. So like any other type of habitat, they are a host to a variety of plants, insects, pollinators, birds, and small mammals and even larger predators that look for these small mammals. So it is also habitat for a whole other range of ecosystem and food chain along our coastline.”

But many have broken down due to the frequency of storms as of late, “Primarily,  the causes are storms that are increasing in severity and frequency. It’s the strong winds and storm surges that have a tendency to erode away our dunes and they have been occurring more and more frequently so it is becoming more and more difficult for the dunes to regenerate themselves and reaccumulate sand for the beach. We’ve had to try to step in and intervene to implement measures to try to accelerate the regeneration and try to protect our beaches and those natural coastal ecosystems,” Hebert adds.

If you’ve been to the beach or to an area with a watershed, you may have noticed signs and areas that are blocked off, asking that you stay off of the dunes.

Hebert says it is important to obey these rules, “The reason you need people to stay off is because the middle ground is very, very much a resilient plant and very strong. The problem is, that it is sensitive to pressure above ground. So when we walk on a dune we’re actually trampling on the plants and on those delicate systems that are just underneath the surface. So when we step, we’re actually breaking away that root network that is keeping all of those plants together and strong. The fencing and those signs that are asking for people to stay off the dunes is to avoid trampling on our dunes and on the grass to try to keep that strong stable system from weakening.”

Dunes vary depending on where you are, and exposure. Hebert says there are big differences between dunes in Shediac Bay as compared to Cap-Pele or to PEI.

She says some are more sheltered than others and aren’t exposed to high winds and the Atlantic Ocean.

“One may be able to regenerate faster whereas the other is slower based on the conditions,” Hebert says.


Leave a Reply