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Waking a Difference

Waking a Difference

Residential and commercial development along the Gold Coast beaches and foreshore has seen a reduction in the number of natural dunes along the coast. Stable and well-vegetated dunes are a barrier to erosive waves, stop sand from being blown inland, and act as a buffer zone that protects land and property. Dunes play an integral role in the protection and ecology of the City of Gold Coast’s most important asset, our beaches.

As regular beach and waterway users, sometimes we may underestimate the role that dune plants play along the shoreline. We have important pioneer sand-stabilising species such as beach spinifex, goats foot, pig face and fan flower that capture and hold windblown sand along the fore dunes. This captured sand can act as a reserve during large storm and erosion events. These plants are generally ground cover with roots that lock the sand in place as the last line of defence and help with the formation of new dunes. Without them in place, dunes would be susceptible to erosion and we risk losing our beaches.

We have all seen the “no-wash zone” signs along Gold Coast waterways and we need to be aware of the impact our wash can have along the foreshore. Apart from the fines that are in place for ignoring waterway regulations, there is evidence to suggest boat wake can lead to shoreline erosion in fragile areas. Anytime our boats are in the transitional pattern, our stern displacement increases and this results in the most destructive wake wave from the boat leading to bank erosion. Be aware of this and take steps to minimise the damage by reducing your wash in vulnerable areas, observe speed limits, transition quickly into planing speed, and report any shoreline erosion to authorities. Just remember, if your wash is larger than the natural waves you would find in that area (wind and swell assisted), then there is the risk you are causing the problem.

The Griffith Centre for Coastal Management in partnership with the City of Gold Coast council, have been working towards the revegetation of Gold Coast dune areas. The programs from the centre are BeachCare and DuneWatch and require volunteers to actively participate on Saturday mornings to assist with the regeneration of dunes sites ranging from Paradise Point to Rainbow Bay. Our fragile beach environments encourage all regular users to actively help in protection of the ecosystem. Stay clear of the dune plants when you berth at a beach, and leave no litter behind. Come along to one of our BeachCare events and learn more about the Gold Coast dune environments and become a champion in your local area!


By James Gullison, Griffith Centre for Coastal Management





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