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Thousands of dune plants go in over winter

21 September 2004

Thousands of dune plants go in over winter

For immediate release: Tuesday 21 September 2004 Nearly 40,000 new native plants will add their strength to the region’s sand dunes after a winter of activity by Coast Care Bay of Plenty.

Volunteers from 28 groups braved the cold, wind and rain to plant dozens of sites all the way from Waihi Beach to Cape Runaway. “They’ve done an absolutely fantastic job,” says coordinator Greg Jenks. “It’s been a great season. The groups put in a record number of plants, which will now help trap new sand to restore the natural protection role of dunes.”

Mr Jenks says natural dunes are the best way of buffering the land from the sea. “Exposed sand is rapidly carried away by wind and lost from the beach system. So dunes must be covered in vegetation – preferably native - if they are to be most effective in helping protect the coastline.”

Coast Care has planted a total of nearly 250,000 plants over the past nine years, including close to 30,000 in 2003. “It really has gone from strength to strength.”

Mr Jenks says Coast Care Bay of Plenty is leading the way in New Zealand with its dune restoration work, which also involves plant propagation and trials with planting techniques. “We don’t have a textbook to refer to because we’re often the first to do it. Our people really are pioneers.”

Coast Care-contracted nurseries are also working to build up stocks of endangered species, such as Autetaranga or Sand Daphne. Only about four of these remain on the mainland Bay of Plenty dunes, although some can be found on Matakana Island. With their soft green foliage, they are an attractive – and useful – dune plant.

Another project is a Euphorbia trial to study how the plant has evolved under different conditions on Tuhua (Mayor-) Island and Taumaihi Island, near Motiti. With Spinifex and Pingao, Euphorbia is one of the main sand-binding native species. “Unfortunately, you don’t find them on the dunes any more because they were mostly eaten by grazing animals,” Mr Jenks says.

Coast Care is a partnership between Environment Bay of Plenty, the coastal district councils and the Department of Conservation. Two staff, Mr Jenks and Suzy O’Neill, work with local community members, who take an active role in managing their own beaches.

ENDS


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