LIFE Project Cover Photo

DUNe restoration by tackling Invasive Alien Species

Reference: LIFE20 NAT/BE/001442 | Acronym: LIFE DUNIAS



Coastal dunes and Atlantic salt marshes are unique ecosystems and home to a large number of red list species. Typical habitat types such as annual pioneer vegetation on mud and sand areas, Atlantic salt meadows, embryonic dunes, shifting white or fixed grey dunes, Atlantic decalcified fixed dunes, dunes with sea buckthorn, dunes with creeping willow, wooded dunes and dune slacks are high conservation value habitats of EU importance.

However, many of the dune areas along the Belgian coast are small and fragmented, making them very susceptible to external influences. Moreover, dunes are open and dynamic systems, making it easier for invasive alien species (IAS) to settle. Also, the microclimate of dunes makes the habitat vulnerable to the settlement of southern IAS. In Belgian coastal dunes, invasive alien plant species such as Rosa rugosa, Mahonia aquifolium and species of Union concern (specifically targeted by the EU IAS Regulation) Baccharis halimifolia and Ailanthus altissima are infesting the abovementioned European habitat types. Dunes become degraded and are clearly species-poorer due to the loss of many typical dune species. In the past few decades efforts to combat IAS have been made but these were somewhat ad hoc and often conducted separately by each dune manager. There is a need for structural and concerted action to fight IAS in the Belgian coastal zone.


The overall goal of the LIFE DUNIAS project is to fight IAS in the Belgian coastal zone in a structured and concerted way.

The project’s specific objectives are to:

  • Eradicate invasive alien plant species in all Flemish coastal dunes;
  • Improve the conservation status of the target habitats by removing the pressure from IAS;
  • Prevent the arrival of new IAS or return of eradicated IAS;
  • Raise awareness with various target groups of the importance to take measures against IAS;
  • Exchange knowledge on IAS distribution and best practices for combating IAS; and
  • Improve an existing early warning system and stimulate volunteers to record IAS observations.



Expected results:

  • Almost 3 800 ha of dune areas managed by over 15 partners completely cleared of IAS plants;
  • Improved conservation status of a number of habitats listed in Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive on a total of more than 2 400 ha;
  • Improved population size and/or distribution of a number of red list species (mainly insects) and species from the EU Habitats and Birds directives;
  • Increased detection rates of IAS due to an improved early warning system, promotion of the system and training of volunteers;
  • Provision of decision support tools (best management techniques);
  • Increased awareness of the threat posed by IAS and the need to act among stakeholders such as policymakers, site managers, scientists, volunteers, garden owners, the horticultural sector, landscape and garden architects, garden centres and plant nurseries, and visitors to nature sites;
  • Behaviour of these stakeholders changed, contributing significantly to a reduction of sources of infection by IAS;
  • Transfer and replication of project tools, knowledge and results in Belgium and across the EU; and
  • Implementation of the EU IAS Regulation.


Reference: LIFE20 NAT/BE/001442
Start Date: 01/10/2021
End Date: 01/10/2026
Total Eligible Budget: 7,087,215 €
EU Contribution: 4,252,329 €
Project Location:


Coordinating Beneficiary: Agency for Nature and Forests
Legal Status: PAT
Address: Havenlaan 88 bus 75, 1000, Brussel, België - Belgique
Contact Person: Reinhardt Strubbe
Email: Send Email
Website: Visit Website

LIFE Project Map



  • Marine and Coastal management
  • Sensitive and protected areas management
  • Coastal
  • Plants
  • Resilient communities
  • Invasive species
  • Awareness raising - Information
  • Public and Stakeholders participation
  • Knowledge development


  • public awareness campaign
  • coastal area
  • social participation
  • marine environment
  • knowledge development
  • biodiversity


  • Regulation 1143/2014 - Prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (22.10.2014)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)


  • 1310 - Salicornia and other annuals colonizing mud and sand
  • 1330 - Atlantic salt meadows (Glauco-Puccinellietalia maritimae)
  • 2110 - Embryonic shifting dunes
  • 2120 - Shifting dunes along the shoreline with Ammophila arenaria ("white dunes")
  • 2130 - Fixed coastal dunes with herbaceous vegetation ("grey dunes")
  • 2150 - Atlantic decalcified fixed dunes (Calluno-Ulicetea)
  • 2160 - Dunes with Hippophaë rhamnoides
  • 2170 - Dunes with Salix repens ssp. argentea (Salicion arenariae)
  • 2180 - "Wooded dunes of the Atlantic, Continental and Boreal region"
  • 2190 - Humid dune slacks


  • Apium repens
  • Bufo calamita
  • Triturus cristatus
  • Vertigo moulinsiana
  • Vertigo angustior


Type Code Name
SCI BE2500001 Duingebieden inclusief Ijzermonding en Zwin.


Name Type
Natuurpunt Studie vzw Participant
Natuurinvest Participant
Natuurpunt beheer vzw Participant
Compagnie Het Zoute NV Participant
Agency for Nature and Forests Coordinator