Award for coastal erosion project

By Alistair March 10, 2024 09:29

Royal Dornoch Golf Club has been named the Sustainable Project of the Year at the Golf Environment Awards.

Scott Aitchison (pictured), deputy course manager, hopes the award will encourage golf clubs around the country to persevere with ambitious conservation plans of their own.

Royal Dornoch, shortlisted along with Carnoustie Links, Kingarrock Hickory Club and the St Andrews Links Trust, was hailed for the club’s commitment to halting coastal erosion which has been threatening an area of the Struie Course.

Royal Dornoch was recognised for “implementing a successful sustainable project with clear objectives and targets that contribute to a more sustainable environment.”

Scott highlighted the key roles played by Green Shores, the University of St Andrews and NatureScot, along with volunteers and youngsters from Dornoch Academy, in supporting the greenkeeping team’s innovative strategy to protect degraded saltmarsh habitat.

“It’s a case of patience finally paying off and it has been very much a collaborative effort since trials began seven years ago,” said Scott.

“Nature-based solutions are increasingly necessary to help the natural resilience of our coastlines and buy time for longer term planning.

“In our case we are determined to conserve and enhance the natural links land to ensure world-class golf can be played at Royal Dornoch for generations to come.”

Rather than install gabion baskets of stone to prevent erosion which had been threatening the salt marshes, the club cast around for natural solutions to the threat posed by the Dornoch Firth.

“We began with a band of chestnut fencing to mitigate the effect of high tides and encourage repopulation of the salt grasses with native plants being grown and planted out by staff and youngsters at Dornoch Academy.

“We changed tack when that wasn’t working as well as we’d have liked, and we have been rewarded after installing staked out, biodegradable coir rolls to provide wave breaks and encourage regeneration.”

Dr Clare Maynard at the University of St Andrews said: “Saltmarsh  is recognised for its role in protecting valuable land from coastal flooding and erosion, storing carbon to help combat climate change and providing habitat to a range of wildlife.

“We are pleased to continue the vital restoration work with the club.”

By Alistair March 10, 2024 09:29

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