A dune is a pile of sand. One usually thinks of larger sand hills in nature, for example in the desert or on the beach. Small dunes are called ripples.
Dunes are formed by wind blowing the sand into a heap. Sometimes grasses grow there. It is precisely then that the dunes last longer. Shifting dunes are constantly being changed and pushed by the wind.
A dune landscape is known in Germany, especially on the North Sea coast. There the dunes are a narrow strip between the coast and inland. This strip goes from Denmark via Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium to France. The islands in the Wadden Sea are mainly dune areas.
But there are also dunes in inland Germany. There are not exactly deserts there, but sandy areas. The dunes are also called inland dunes, the areas are called shifting sand fields. They are often located near rivers, but also, for example, in the Lüneburg Heath, and in Brandenburg.
Why are some dunes not allowed to be entered?
Coastal dunes are important for several reasons. Therefore, only narrow paths lead through the dunes from land to the beach. Visitors must absolutely stay on the trails. A fence often shows where you are not allowed to walk.
On the one hand, the dunes protect the land from the sea. At high tide, the water only goes up to the dunes, which act like a dam or a wall. That’s why people plant grass there, the common beach grass, the dune grass, or the beach rose. Plants hold the dunes together.
On the other hand, the dune area is also a special landscape in itself. Many small and large animals live there, even deer and foxes. Other animals are lizards, rabbits, and especially many species of birds. One must neither uproot the plants nor disturb the animals.
Other reasons are the protection of bunker systems. During World War II, the armies built buildings and defenses. Today they are monuments and should not be damaged. In addition, drinking water is obtained in some dune areas.
If people walked around there or set up a tent, they would trample the plants. Or they step into bird’s nests. You also don’t want people leaving litter around the dunes. Despite the threat of penalties, many people do not comply with the bans.