Vegetated Shingle is a unique and fragile habitat, full of rare species. England has a high proportion of the world's shingle, and Suffolk has large proportion of the UK's, so we have a special responsibility. Sometimes because something is common in one place its wider importance is under-appreciated where it is found, and certainly that seems to be one of the issues for shingle.
In undisturbed shingle, each ridge is a record of a single storm. At Orford Ness you can see the record of storms stretching back for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Vegetated shingle is very vulnerable to accidental trampling and to nutrient enrichment from dog fouling. The plants tend to grow on the top of the shingle ridges, where storm waves throw the finer sand. It's the sand that holds a little water and just enough nutrients. Trampling tends to break down the ridges, mixing coarse pebbles and finer sand. The finer material and any seeds then wash down further beyond the depth were they can support a vegetated shingle community.
Touching the Tide helped by carrying out surveys of some key sites and raising awareness of this very special habitat through training and guided walks.