Hamm Beach was formed in a dynamic environment with weather and tide acting on it from both the east and the west. This dynamic process has been steadily curtailed by man’s activities starting with the building of the Portland Harbour breakwaters which cut off the supply of material from the south and which also reduced the wave action from the east.
The building of the road and the Portland railway further curtailed the dynamic processes affecting the beach. More recently the building of the heliport, now the sailing school, and the moving of the Fleet channel have further impacted the beach.
Increased footfall on the beach resulting from the increasing popularity of water sports has further degraded the environment. Some years ago boardwalks and barriers were put in place to minimise the resulting erosion.
The effect of all the impacts is to change what was a highly dynamic environment into a very static environment. This means that pioneer species such as sea holly which need open sandy spaces to thrive are now disappearing from the beach.
A project is now starting called ‘Creating Spaces for Species’ to try and recreate some features that were present when Hamm Beach was more dynamic. The project is run by Footprint Ecology in conjunction with the land owners and other stakeholders. Their summary about the project is:
Hamm Beach, much loved by locals and visitors, has been home to a remarkable array of wildlife, including rarities such as the tiny, hopping “micro” moth Scythris siccella and attractive plants such as Sea Holly. Over the years, the sand dunes have become artificially stabilised, and now there is not enough space for these species. However, all is not lost, as a new partnership project Creating Spaces for Species is working with the landowners and other partners to restore suitable habitat. Click here for more information on this project.