Fixed dunes (grey dunes) 2130* occupy 27.01 ha at this site, or 1.5% of the SAC and 0.3% of the total area of fixed dunes in Ireland. Fixed dune habitat 2130* at Murvagh was last assessed in 2006 as part of a national baseline study for the assessment of sand dune habitats under Article 17 of Directive 92/43/EEC. The area was assessed as unfavorable-unsuitable at the time due to acceleration of natural erosion from recreational activities. The structure and functions were classified as unfavorable-bad since it was found that the vegetation lacked typical species in some places, and no management was implemented to enable its improvement. The presence of conifers in the dune system was listed as having a negative impact on future prospects and the structure and function of the 2130* dunes. Several underlying factors are responsible for the poor condition of the dunes at the site. The conifer plantation is a source of non-native woody species that threaten the herbaceous vegetation of the fixed dunes. Restricting fixed dunes to a narrow strip along the eastern edge of the tongue increases recreational use impacts relative to total dune area.
The lack of management to maintain the herbaceous vegetation cover has had a negative impact on the structure and composition of the natural plant formations. Wind aggravates poor plant community structure and development, and the risk of windfall increases over time as the plantation ages. Given the complexity associated with managing a site for conservation and recreation, while reducing the impact of forestry management, a well-planned approach is required that takes into account the wide range of impacts and potential solutions. This project will provide a framework within which NPWS and COILLTE can work together with local stakeholders to develop solutions that deliver better conservation outcomes for the 2130* fixed dunes. The relationships built throughout the project will be beneficial to the long-term management of the site and will strengthen the development of the AfterLIFE tasks. As part of this project, the area loss reported in 2006 will be compensated by restoring the forested dunes to type 2130*. This will be achieved by removing invasive tree regrowth within dune habitats and a management plan will be designed to improve the vegetation structure of habitat 2130*.