Grass essential

RECENT letters about Amble’s Little Shore have been critical of organisations not having the grass on the shore pulled out to allow kids to play on ‘open sand’.

The problem with pulling the grass out is that without the grass there would very likely be no Little Shore.

The offensive grass in question is probably mostly marram grass and it is the surface leaves and particularly the root system that ‘ties’ the Little Shore sand together.

Without these roots, the Little Shore would end up blown away and the sand would be blown onto the nearby streets and also likely be washed away by the action of the sea.

Admittedly, marram grass has sharp edges but this is its defence mechanism which saves it from being trampled, particularly by livestock and humanity.

Wildlife wardens and rangers often have marram planting sessions with volunteers, the idea being to save our sand dunes from erosion. Dunes could be important with a possible future of sea level rises.

The leaves of marram grass are long and narrow and in dry weather curl into a thin tube to reduce water loss.

The upper surface of the leaves, which is on the inside when they curl, is ribbed and grooved, with hairs along the ribs, which also help to conserve water.

The name marram comes from two old Norse words: Marr (sea), and halmr (reed).

David Turnbull,

Former Wildlife Ranger, Alnwick