Shifting Shores at Formby

In 2005 the National Trust investigated how the coast was likely to change over the next 100 years. We also looked at the different options available to us in managing these changing coastlines. From this research, we produced our first Shifting Shores report and have since been committed to working with natural processes and adapting to coastal change. Now a second report, ‘Shifting Shores – Playing Our Part at the Coast’ takes a look back at the last 10 years to see how far we have come and to look at how best to manage our wonderful and dynamic coastal places like Formby, in the future.

Formby: A Shifting Shores case study

As one of the fastest changing coastlines that National Trust cares for, Formby featured as a case study in both the original and 2015 Shifting Shores report. The sand dunes here are in constant motion as they roll back inland naturally at a rate of 4 metres a year. This motion gives us some of the best mobile sand dune habitat in the UK and creates homes for some very rare wildlife including Natterjack Toads, Sand Lizards and Northern Dune Tiger Beetles. It also produces a steep sided sand wall that acts as an excellent natural sea defence for the residential area of Formby. However, the movement can create complications too as paths, car parks and other features inland become buried as the sand dunes roll back. Watch the video below to find out more about how natural processes shape the coastline of Formby:

The challenge for us is how we create space for the dunes to move inland naturally, thereby looking after the internationally important habitats and this natural sea defence, while also providing sustainable access and facilities for our many visitors. To achieve this we need to work with and adapt to the natural processes shaping this landscape. We also need to work alongside partners along the Sefton coast to ensure that we are managing the coastline as a whole and that whatever work we undertake here we are not negatively impacting other areas. It is important to work with our local community and visitors to ensure that everyone understands the changes happening and how we can all play our part to help look after this special place for generations to come.

Watch Kate Martin, our Area Ranger, talk to Nick Crane (BBC Coast presenter) about the Shifting Shores-Playing our Part at the Coast at Formby:

Coastal change is a constant. The power of wind and sea have shaped the coastline of Formby for millenia and will continue to do so in the future. The challenge for us is how we work with these natural processes to ensure that Formby remains an internationally important area of conservation as well as a well-loved day trip destination.