Tree-mendous idea to save coastline


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Christmas trees aren’t just for Christmas – they can help protect the North Wales coastline and raise money for a hospice at the same time.

St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph has partnered with Denbighshire and Flintshire County Councils to make a green start to 2017 by supporting efforts to restore the sand dunes along Barkby Beach in Prestatyn and Talacre in Flintshire.

For a small donation, the hospice is offering to collect discarded Christmas trees so they can be planted along a stretch of coastline in Prestatyn to help repair the badly eroded sand dunes.

Sand dunes naturally help to defend against beach erosion and coastal storms and the branches of the Christmas trees help to bind the sand together to provide additional protection.

The project also enhances the local habitat as when the trees decompose, they provide a rich source of nutrients for the dune grasses.

Organisers hope to plant dozens of discarded Christmas trees within the dunes to prevent hundreds of tonnes of windblown sand from sweeping inland to help strengthen the beach’s natural defences.

Laura Parry, fundraising manager for St Kentigern Hospice, said: “The message we’re hoping to send out is that trees really aren’t just for Christmas – they can keep on giving long after the decorations have been put back in the loft.

“As well as helping to safeguard an important stretch of the Prestatyn coastline, local people can help raise much-needed funds to enable us to continue the vital work of the hospice and other good causes by donating their Christmas trees in the New Year.

“Disposing of the Christmas tree once the festive period has drawn to a close is a job we would all rather do without. With the help of our volunteers, we can take the stress away this January and keep the legacy of the tree very much alive by ensuring they continue to make a difference for future generations.”

The hospice is inviting local people to sign up to a collection slot on the weekend of January 13, 14 and 15 in exchange for a small donation.

Volunteers will then put the trees to good use, planting them in the sand dunes which require the most urgent repair work.

Garry Davies, Denbighshire County Council countryside officer, said: “The preferred approach to sand dune restoration is to allow natural processes to find a balance.

“However, at the location concerned the dunes have been damaged by manmade actions and if left unchecked they will not be able to act as a natural sea defence. Using Christmas Trees to trap wind-blown sand is a traditional and proven dune management technique.”

Cllr David Smith, lead member for the Environment, said: “The Christmas trees will be used by Denbighshire Countryside Service staff and their volunteers to help repair a section of sand dune that has become badly eroded at Barkby Beach, Prestatyn.

“This innovative approach is cost effective, involves volunteers and helps to protect a special habitat as well as raising money for a very worthy cause. The sand dunes are important for wildlife, recreation and act as a natural sea defence which are protected by National and European Law.”

St Kentigern Hospice celebrated 21 years of delivering specialist care for those with life-threatening and terminal illness in 2016 – an anniversary which fundraisers marked by planting a sea of metal flowers in the grounds of Rhuddlan Castle.

The charity provides high-quality palliative care for people in Denbighshire, Flintshire and Conwy through its services, which include an eight-patient ward, physiotherapy, day care unit for up to 15 patients, outpatient clinic, occupational therapy, bereavement support and complementary therapies.

In 2016, it cost more than £1.4m to run the hospice which equates to more than £3,800 a day. Just 18% of this will come from the Local Health Board which is only enough funding to support the hospice for 68 days.

As a result, the hospice relies heavily on the generosity of the communities it serves in North East Wales to raise the additional funding needed for the remaining 299 days of the year.

For more information visit www.stkentigernhospice.org.uk/events or call 01745 536022

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