Sand dunes are limited and specialized habitats threatened by urbanization and development, especially coastal and tourist development with its associated activities such as "off-roading" with motorised vehicles are destructive to sand dunes. Pollution and the dumping of litter are a problem on many coastal sand dunes. Natural disasters such as storms and hurricanes can destroy sand dunes.
Sand dunes occur throughout the world, from coastal and lakeshore plains to arid desert regions. In addition to the remarkable structure and patterns of sand dunes, they also provide habitats for a variety of life which is marvelously adapted to this unique environment. Many dunes have unique habitats that occur in no other dune chains.
Less than 20 percent of the earth's total desert area is covered with sand, and sand dunes only account for about two percent of the surface of North American deserts. Sand Dunes are important because they: protect islands from storm surges, hurricanes and erosion; provide habitat for coastal plants and animals; provide nesting sites for sea turtles; and provide a nesting place for birds. Sand dunes are especially important for small island economies in attracting tourism and for their fishing industries, as they are crucial in the formation of beaches and coral reefs.
In Anguilla sand has been extensively mined for construction.