Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve is a large tidal basin surrounded by dunes, dune slacks, saltmarsh and pine woods. The mudflats which are exposed at low tide provide a rich food source for thousands of birds.
Coul Links on the south side of the loch is one of the last areas of undisturbed species-rich duneland in Scotland. It is a mosaic of different dune habitats, each individually important and all increasing rare. It is particularly special as a complete dune system with dynamic, shifting dunes, static older dunes, seasonally flooded dune slacks, and ancient sand dunes covered by heath.
The dune complex at Coul Links is home to many different birds, especially waders and waterfowl such as curlews, oystercatchers, dunlins, bar-tailed godwits, ringed plovers and terns. Large flocks of eider overwinter just offshore. Breeding birds which also stand to lose their homes include skylarks, whinchats and cuckoos which are all in decline across the UK. Many of the species are of Conservation Concern being either Red or Amber Listed. During the breeding season the links are alive with birdsong.
Mammals recorded on the site include voles, pine martens, badgers, stoats, weasels and bats. The dunes also provide home to a colourful and rich variety of flowering plants (including sea centuary, purple milk-vetch, moonwort and frog orchid) and insects including some rare specialist species.
Many of the animals, birds and insects present depend upon free movement between the different dune habitats (at different stages of their life cycle, for example).
The huge importance for wildlife of Loch Fleet and Coul Links is reflected by the fact that the area is protected nationally as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and internationally as a Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site.
The mosaic of dune habitats is currently intact and human visitors mainly stick to the few footpaths that pass through the site. Wildlife can therefore use and move freely within and between habitats. The construction of a network of tees, fairways, manicured greens and footpaths weaving through the SSSI and SPA would destroy the habitat mosaic. Wildlife would no longer be able to freely move between the remaining fragmented pockets of dune habitats. Many of the birds and other animals that currently use the site would be scared off by increased and regular human presence and be unlikely to return.