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Goa, situated along the west coast of India, has beautiful stretches of sandy shores and beaches with a characteristic sand dune ecosystem of vital economical and ecological importance. Dunes are nothing but mounds of drifted sand on the beach. The structure of the dunes and sandy beaches change constantly because of their dynamic nature.

The beautiful sandy beaches of Goa are backed by several rows of 1-10 metres high sand dunes, which extend almost half a kilometer or more before merging with the hinterland coastal plain. The main pre-requisite for the formation of sand dunes are wind, sand and vegetation. Hence the dune vegetation plays an important role in minimizing the wind speed and also the movement of sand from the dune.

Natural disturbances like ongoing abrasion, salt spray, erosion-accretion, wave attack are some of the natural processes that affect the coast regularly and have always been a normal part of beach and dune building process. Sand dunes are a sign of the ecological equilibrium between the powerful physical forces of the ocean and thus act as nature’s first line of defense to prevent monsoon storm, waves and cyclonic surges.


Distribution of Sand Dunes in Goa


The five key coastal stretches are characterized by conspicuous Sand Dune Complexes as follows: (Mascarenhas, 1997)


Classification of Sand Dunes


According to Desai (1995) the beaches of Goa can be classified into the following zones:

Embroynic Dune
This zone is nearest towards the sea and is often unvegetated towards the sea. It is just above the high tide level with its steeper face inland. This zone is formed by sand delivered to the beach by wave action. The dominant plants growing on the embryonic dunes are Ipomea pes-caprae, Spinifex littoreus and few other herbaceous species.
Mid shore Dune
The vegetation here is characterized by the presence of shrubs and is more or less stable. The common species found here are Spermacoce strict, Leucas aspera, Vitex negundo, Clerodendrum inerme.
Hind Shore Dune
 This region has trees with long root system. The dominant plants growing on these dunes are Vitex negundo, Clerodendrum inerme, Anacardium occidentale, Pandanus tectorius, Casuarina equisetifolia, Cocos nucifera etc.

Importance of Sand Dunes


A Sand Dune belt performs multiple functions and are of immense value to coastal population:

  • Dunes are typical features of Coastal stability,
  • Dunes act as nature’s line of defense,
  • Sources of beach nourishment and protects coast from erosion and replenish the loss of sand dune to wave and current energies,
  • Sand Dunes act as Sand Banks to maintain the sedimentary and dynamic equilibrium of the dune – Beach Ecosystem,
  • Rich in genetic diversity (Flora and Fauna),
  • Serves as an ideal place for recreation,
  • Dunes protect the hinterland from winds and other forces

Threats to Sand Dunes

Coastal Sand dune system in Goa has been under constant threat due to pressure of population, developmental activities, tourism and construction. Some of the factors responsible for dune degradation are

    • Construction activities
    • Sand extraction
    • Construction of Roads
    • Recreation activities
    • Litter on beaches
    • Salt water ingres

Photo Gallery

Sand Dunes at Miramar Beach

Sand Dunes at Galgibag Beach

Sand Dunes at Varca

Ipomea Vegetation at Miramar Beach

Sand Dunes at Mandrem

Spinifex vegetation at Mandrem