Coastal dunes are shifting sands in constant evolution which play a protective role for inland areas against the pounding waves. A kind of vegetation adapted to marine conditions (salty wind, burial, heat, and deficiency of water and nutrients) grows in them.
These plants act slowing the wind that blows sand from the beach, so the sand comes down and settles on small mounds. These mounds finally join and form a dune range, resulting in unique landscapes such as Flecha de El Rompido (http://www.fuertehoteles.com/
During the past century a quarter of the dune area in Europe has disappeared, more than a half of the remaining area has lost its natural character and 85% is at risk. Their main threats are urban and industrial development, habitat degradation due to the recreational use of coastal areas, invasion by exotic species, and the impacts of global warming and the constant rising of sea level. This is why El Rompido beach has a special protection to keep it entirely in its natural state, without buildings and preserving its ecosystem.
But actually, how can a sand dune beach be protected? As we said you reach this beautiful beach by a five-minute boat trip from the village of El Rompido. When arriving to the Flecha (sand strip like an arrow) the boat docks right in front of a wooden walkway, from where the walk starts through the dunes to the vast beach.
The elevated walkways avoid that the constant movement of people to the beach damage the dune ridge and reduce its protective function. There are also wicker fences, which capture the sand when plants are damaged, and help the dune to restore its shape.
However, this ecosystem does not include only dunes, but it has broom-land and marshland areas. The coastal marshlands located in the river Pederast estuary are unique for their beauty and their wildlife richness. These low and plain areas are flooded by the tide and are exposed when the tide changes, showing curious images such as hundreds of thousands of crabs digging their holes in the mud. Plants specific of this environment such as spur flax, sea-lavender, herbaceous seepweed or small cordgrass grow in these areas.