Ten badly-eroded dune zones on the Gold Coast are slowly being repaired from the ground – or from the beach dunes – upwards thanks to hundreds of volunteers each year.
A decade ago the federal government’s National Landcare Program provided community grants to help establish small teams of volunteers to do revegetation and anti-erosion work.
It is unsexy, old-fashioned, but critically-important grassroots work that is slowly but surely repairing damaged beach environments, despite the ravages of storm and cyclones.
Federal grants have now been replaced by local grants and in recent years a partnership between the Gold Coast City Council and Griffith University has evolved.
BeachCare – a program run by a $200,000 joint partnership between the two organisations – now plants, cleans, revegetates and monitors 10 dunes areas from Paradise Point on the Gold Coast’s north to Rainbow Bay in the south, right beside the New South Wales border.
Tegan Croft, a graduate of Griffith University’s School of Australian Environmental Studies, is the co-ordinator of BeachCare, which is funded by $110,000 from that money.
She began as one of the 800 BeachCare volunteers who have been working on 10 sites, linked in with community groups.
“What we are trying to create is a corridor of beautiful dunes from one end of the coast to the other,” Ms Croft said.
“But that all takes time,” she said.
The 10 dune sites – needing dune stabilisation, revegetation, litter removal and weed removal – have chosen by the public, by Gold Coast councillors and by conservationists.
“It is basically reviving the beach habitat,” Ms Croft said.
“It may have been eroded away and we might replant spinifex to help hold the sand,” she said.
Storms do badly impact the beaches, but their impact is often misunderstood, Ms Croft said.
“The thing that storm mostly brings is litter and rubbish,” she said.
“A lot of the marine debris gets washed up into our dunes and we find thousands of tiny little pieces of plastic and foam that has been washed in.”
They also have to clean up after people light bonfires, “do lewd things in the dunes and forget someone has to clean up” and repair vandalism.
But their major role is revegetating the dunes to stop erosion.
However the Beach Care volunteers work at the 10 dune sites on the Gold Coast 42 of the 52 weeks of the year and do have a well co-ordinated rehabilitation program, Ms Croft said.