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Caring for our Coastal Sand Dunes

Caring for our Coastal Sand Dunes

The Coastal Dune Vegetation Network (CDVN) – a national group of local authorities, forestry companies, coastal managers and more than 250 collaborative members such as community and Coast Care groups - will hold its 7th national conference at Te Papa, Wellington from Wednesday 10 to Friday 12 March 2004.

The conference gives those working in New Zealand’s most iconic environment the opportunity to share the latest results of research and dune management experience.

Most New Zealander’s live on or near the coast and visit the beach. There is huge investment in housing and infrastructure along many of our coasts; pressure on this fragile area of our environment is increasing.

Many coastal dunes are heavily modified and vastly degraded, having been fired and grazed, bulldozed and built on. Sea level rise, storms, and pressure to develop and further modify the coastline, such as reducing dune height for sea views, all pose threats to local communities and increase the burden on New Zealand’s rates-funded infrastructure.

Recent research by scientists in the CDVN has led to successful methods for planting native sand-binding species on foredunes. In several regions, Councils together with Coast Care groups have restored damaged dune areas. Pingao, one of the sand-binders, is an important traditional Maori weaving plant and is now becoming more available for harvesting of leaves.

On some sites the successful new vegetation cover has overturned the need for construction of rock or concrete walls to prevent coastal erosion.

The Network is administered from Forest Research, Rotorua, where scientists have a long history of work on sand dune vegetation. Members contribute to research with close to $100,000 of direct and in-kind support such as trial set-up, plants and materials.

As the range of organisations eligible for Government funding has increased, support for research in this area has decreased down to a level where a full-time scientist can no longer be supported.

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