Wet dune slacks are distinctive wetlands that are sensitive to human influences on their hydrology. The EU Habitats Directive requires competent authorities to assess all plans and projects that could affect the nature conservation objectives of European sites (SACs and SPAs), in order to maintain their ecological integrity. The Environment Agency, as a ‘competent authority’, is responsible for reviewing all its existing authorisations, consents, licences and permissions that may significantly affect European sites in England and Wales. English Nature, the Countryside Council of Wales and the Environment Agency have collaborated to address the requirement for scientifically robust information on the ecohydrology of wetland sites.
The aim of the project was to evaluate scientific knowledge of dune-slack habitats and provide a robust foundation for further work. The specific objectives were to:
- review relevant information on the water resource and nutrient requirements of dune-slack habitats and species;
- critically evaluate this information in order to identify significant gaps in knowledge and requirements for further work; and
- provide interim recommendations for ecological target setting.