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Published: 2004-09-23 00:00:00

Environment Waikato’s Beachcare groups are helping reduce coastal hazards and educating communities about how their beaches work.

This month’s Environment Committee heard that Beachcare activities have expanded and strengthened with two new groups at Raglan and Rings Beach. All the Beachcare groups are supported by their local communities and district councils.

Contractor Jim Dahm said there were strong iwi links, especially at Marokopa, Kiritehere and Whaingaroa beaches. Other communities had also expressed an interest and facilitators had met with groups at Matarangi, Mataora, Hahei and Cooks Beach during the past year.

Extensive planting work was completed with about 22,000 plants, including 17,000 sand-binding grasses and sedges on the foredunes and 3500 ground cover, trees and shrubs on back dunes.

An increased variety of coastal species was planted, enhancing the biodiversity of the Region's dunes. Twenty five different species were planted last year, including a couple of species very rare in the Waikato – sand pimelea and sand fescue. Some Beachcare groups were eliminating weed species, especially at Rings Beach where the community was eradicating a severe infestation of climbing asparagus on the dunes and local properties.

Erosion last year provided opportunities to promote Beachcare messages about natural erosion cycles and the important role of dunes. There was continuing evidence that Beachcare is helping raise community appreciation and understanding of natural beach processes and the importance of dunes.

A group at Pauanui gained approval for a major reshaping and planting to re-establish a naturally functioning dune at the southern end of the beach. At Tairua there was widespread community reaction to unauthorised levelling of a coastal dune by a beachfront property owner.

He said there were still serious issues at some sites, especially Kariotahi where facilitators were working with Beachcare and other groups on environmental and safety issues of vehicles on the beach.

Work for next year included continued planting work, two new groups, a major campaign to address the vehicle issue at Kariotahi, public information at Port Waikato and major dune restoration work at Pauanui.