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Sand dunes valuable in time of changing climate

Sand dunes valuable in time of changing climate

The value of sand dunes in today’s changing climate will be explored by coastal experts at a conference in Tauranga early next year.

The Hon David Parker, the Minister for Climate Change Issues, will be keynote speaker for the event in mid-February. It is being organised by Environment Bay of Plenty for the Dune Restoration Trust of New Zealand, formerly the Coastal Dune Vegetation Network.

Event organiser, Greg Jenks of Coast Care Bay of Plenty, says the four-day conference will involve “a sharing of knowledge” about the sustainable management of New Zealand’s coastal environment. It includes a session by Richard Warrick of the International Global Change Institute on the need for practical coastal management in a time of climate change and sea level rise. Another workshop, by NIWA’s James Goff, will look at the role strong sand dunes play during tsunami events.

A series of field trips will showcase the practical work carried out by community groups to strengthen the Bay of Plenty’s sand dunes. For the past 13 years, Environment Bay of Plenty and coastal councils, and more recently the Department of Conservation, have worked with local communities to restore the coastline’s sand dunes. They have done this by planting them with native dune plants, which strengthen the dunes and help build them up. With more than 30 groups at work, it is the most successful programme of its kind in New Zealand.

Mr Jenks says Coast Care volunteers are invited to attend the conference, and he expects a good showing. “Many of our volunteers have contributed immensely to the restoration of the region’s dunes – it’s really because of them that we have so much to celebrate now.”

Mr Jenks says a strong buffer of sand dunes can help protect the land from the effect of climate change, sea level rise and even tsunamis.

The conference will run from Tuesday 13 February to Friday 16 February, with the last day as an optional day. For the programme, costs, and how to register, go to www.envbop.govt.nz. For more information, contact Greg Jenks at Environment Bay of Plenty on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267).

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