A SIGNIFICANT proportion of Studand Beach has been temporarily lost to the sea following the recent storms, says the National Trust.
If you walked the length of the beach, up to ten metres of sand has been lost in places, as well as a number of trees and dunes being damaged.
The fierce conditions also caused a small landslide at Middle Beach and affected rocks surrounding one of Dorset’s most recognisable landmarks – Old Harry.
Elli MacDonald, who is working with the National Trust on the ‘Living with a Changing Coast’ project, said despite the rocks around Old Harry being affected, the chalk stack itself remains intact.
Elli, whose work is focused on how coastal change affects communities, believes the way forward at Studland is to work with the natural processes.
“We take the long view on adaptation to climate change and extreme weather,” she explained. “Coastal change is inevitable, and the forces of nature are part of the beauty and appeal of our coast, so we want to work with the natural process wherever possible.”
Although the National Trust’s long-term position is to develop a plan for the sustainable management of coastal change at Studland, in the short-term workers have been clearing debris from the beach and ensuring visitor access is maintained.
The sand lost will, most likely, be deposited back along the beach eventually, said a National Trust spokesman, but it might not necessarily be exactly where it was before.
Over time, Elli says, coastal infrastructure and facilities will be gradually ‘rolled-back’ to less vulnerable positions, while allowing nature to create new sea defences such as sand bars and dunes.
The National Trust believes that it would be futile, and ultimately accelerate the erosion process, if attempts were made to hold back the waves at Studland. Conservationists say this could hasten the loss of the beach as it would be “squeezed” between the sea and hard concrete defences.
“At Studland there will always be a beach as long as it is allowed to naturally migrate landwards,” said Elli.