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A beach summer for survey student


A beach summer for survey student
For immediate release: Monday 18 December 2006
What a great way to spend the summer!

Otago University student Kieran Douglas will be hitting the Bay of Plenty’s beaches over the next few weeks. And he’s even getting paid for it.

Environment Bay of Plenty has employed Kieran to survey the drivers of vehicles parked up on soft sand or sand dunes.

The regional council wants to gain a better understanding of why people choose to take their vehicles onto the beach. It also wants to find out whether drivers are aware they might be harming the environment by doing so.

“We’ve seen the damage, and we’re worried about it,” explains planner Andrew Wharton. “However, we don’t really know how widespread the practice is, or whether people realise they’re actually causing problems. That’s what we want to find out.”

Kieran will also be asking drivers for ways to resolve the situation, perhaps by providing more official accessways to the beach.

Vehicles driven over soft sand and dunes can crush birds’ nests (like dotterels) and invertebrates. The wheels compact the sand, which can make it inhospitable for the creatures living underneath. Vehicles also chew up the plants that bind sand dunes and make them stronger. Without plants, the sand dunes can simply blow away – leaving the land more vulnerable to erosion and flooding.

Kieran starts work just before Christmas. Over the next two months, he will visit beaches from Waihi Beach to Tirohanga on the East Cape. Kieran has just finished his third year at Otago University. He is studying for a Bachelor of Science and Physical Geography.


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