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Coast Care volunteers out in force for winter

Coast Care volunteers out in force for winter

For immediate release: Tuesday 9 August 2005

Bay of Plenty Coast Care volunteers are out in force this winter planting more than 60,000 native plants on the region’s sand dunes – the largest number ever planted in one season in New Zealand.

A decade on, the programme is still going strong, says coordinator Greg Jenks, with dozens of people from 28 groups helping out in regular planting sessions. “It’s fantastic because everyone is still so very keen. Activity and interest continues to be high.”

Mr Jenks says that community participation, interaction and education in dune restoration practices reach their peak at this time of the year.

Coast Care Bay of Plenty 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 active roles in managing their own beaches.

Since Coast Care started, these volunteers have planted more than 300,000 plants to strengthen dunes from Waihi Beach to Cape Runaway. In many vulnerable areas, the seaward face of the dunes is now covered in thriving plants, Mr Jenks says. “We will be moving into a new stage with the project over the next few years. Because of the volunteers’ great work, we have planted out the easier sites in key locations. Some of those that are left are less suitable for planting, as they may have been capped with clay or dominated by invasive weeds, for example.”

Mr Jenks says more rare and threatened plants like sand daphne (Pimelea arenaria) are also being planted now.

Mr Jenks and colleague Suzy O’Neill are also promoting the planting of the back of dunes by adjacent households. The back dunes are often covered with weeds and lupins. Under the Backyard Buffers programme, residents clear weeds and re-plant with native dune plants. Coast Care staff support their work with free plants, fertiliser and weed clearance, and also provide vouchers to take greenwaste to the local refuse station. “More and more people are taking up the offer,” Mr Jenks says.

Natural dunes are the best way of buffering the land from the sea. Exposed sand on damaged dunes is rapidly carried away by wind and lost from the beach system. However, dunes swathed in appropriate native plants are more effective in helping protect the coastline. They also keep beaches wide for people to enjoy.

ENDS

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