The Great Dune of Pyla (Desert Week)

Wednesday, 18th June 2008 by

We’re continuing the first annual GSS Desert Week! In time-honoured tradition, we’ll mostly be posting about deserts. For about a week.

Whilst not technically a desert, The Great Dune of Pyla (or Pilat), France, is without doubt the largest sand dune in Europe. The dune is around 500m by 3km and up to 117 metres tall, totaling about 60,000,000 m³.

Worryingly, the massive sand dune isn’t content to stay put, and seems hell-bent on swallowing up the forest and anything else that gets in its way. In tandem with coastal erosion, the dune is advancing inland at a rate of around 5 metres a year – which, multiplied by the dune’s length means that up to 15,000m2 of forest is being lost every year.

Roads and several houses have already been obliterated by the dune’s progress, and if its progression continues at the same pace, in 40 year’s time the Biscarrosse road and campsite will too have been lost forever.

See the Great Dune of Pyla’s official website for more info (where they also have a good gallery of photos clearly showing the forest being consumed by sand), or read the painfully factual Wikipedia page.