The implantation of a submarine outfall pipe in 1995 for the cellulose pulp and paper companies Celbi and Soporcel, lead to some changes in the Leirosa sand dunes system. The use of hard machinery and the nearby presence of a breakwater increased the lasting problems of erosion in this coastal ecosystem.
Sand accretion was the first step to the reconstruction of the Leirosa dunes (which started in 2000). After that, to stabilize the sand, revegetation was carried out with transplants of the grass Ammophila arenaria (L.) Link, the most appropriate plant species used in these situations.
The winter of 2000/2001 was particularly severe and in February 2001 most of the oceanic side of the Leirosa rehabilitated sand dune system was destroyed. The monitoring plan continued, to assess sand erosion and vegetation growth.
In February 2005, after evaluating several alternatives, the Leirosa sand dunes were reconstructed with layers of geotextiles filled with sand. Once the sand containers were in place, this protection barrier was covered by a 1 m layer of sand which was planted with A. arenaria, turning this area into an attractive and safe coastal dune system.
Some problems, probably caused by unapropriate seal of the geotextiles layers, lead to their opening in some parts of the 3 bottom layers in March 2006. In order to stabilize and reinforce the sand dune in this specific damaged area, a proposal of rehabilitation including geotextiles tubes is currently being analysed.
A protocol involving two industries, Celbi and Soporcel, and the IMAR research Institute, was established already in the year 1999, to promote the sustainable rehabilitation of the Leirosa dune system. It follows a brief presentation of this successful collaboration.