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Post graduate scholarship winner for 2023

Madeleine Brown from The University of Otago has been awarded the Coastal Restoration Trust’s post graduate scholarship for 2023. Madeleine aims to improve our understanding of the role vegetation has in foredune morphology. Observing wind flow and sand transportation through a pīkao/pīngao foredune system and comparing with dunes vegetated with sand tussock and marram will help inform which vegetation is suited to different foredune conditions. Further, planting design to allow for pathways for sand transport further into the dune system may enable the system to be more resilient to sea level rise.

CRT looks forward to the results of Madeleine’s research.

Best Coastal Restoration Project for 2023

The CRT Board is very pleased to announce that the winner of the best Coastal Restoration project for 2023 has been awarded to the Thames-Coromandel District Council and Pauanui Dune Protection Society.

After a cluster of storms in the winter of 2020 and 2021, the coastal zone at Pauanui was significantly impacted because only a narrow strip of the coast had been restored. A large area of grass behind this strip of dune was considered an important recreation area: however, this was at risk from further coastal erosion.

TCDC provided options on how to prevent further erosion of the area, and the CRT Board were very impressed with the way TCDC worked with the community regarding their concerns to extend planting over half of the grassed reserve.

On the back of community meetings, the Pauanui Dune Protection Society was formed, and TCDC and the group sought advice from coastal scientists who confirmed that a much wider dune restoration would provide more resilience to the coastline.

After much communication by TCDC and the Pauanui Dune group, the community consented to the work and in May 2022, 200 volunteers helped plant 13,000 native dune plants over 265m of shoreline. PDPS and TCDC intend to broaden the scope of this work further north and south of the project area.

Jamie Boyle, Coastal Scientist at Thames-Coromandel District Council, explains more about the project:

“For the last two years, the southern shoreline in Pauanui has experienced successive storm events and have been assessed as unprecedented in the history of monitoring at Pauanui (Tonkin and Taylor, 2022). A cluster of storms occurred between April and September 2020, and again from May to October 2021. These storm clusters lasted the duration of winter months, with large and persistent swells recurring every 2-3 weeks and lasting anywhere between 2-10 days.

Unlike a more natural dune system, where successive dune plant zones can accommodate coastal erosion, the narrow Pauanui foredune system is constrained by a large, grassed reserve. Historically, dune restoration in Pauanui has been width-limited (maximum of 5 m) to maintain the highly valued reserve space. However, this has meant that following erosion events in the past, only a very narrow margin of the native sand trapping spinifex and pingao plants had remained. Unfortunately, the events of the last two years removed all native plants and only grassed reserve remained. As a result, all dune self-repair potential was gone.

Using a scientific approach, a much larger restored dune width was proposed to accommodate future erosion events and provide enough remaining plants to self-repair. This width was planned to take up approximately half of the grassed reserve and challenge the use of the reserve space. As such, significant community consultation was required. Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC) presented the proposal in a public meeting, and this was initially met with opposition. It was understandable that a one-off presentation is difficult to both contextualise and accept, and particularly when the work required needed a shift in reserve use.

On the back of this meeting, a silver lining emerged with a small group getting together to discuss the merits of what TCDC had proposed. They sought external coastal scientific advice and after much deliberation, consensus was that the work proposed was indeed the most suitable for the current situation and this led to the formation of the ‘Pauanui Dune Protection Society’ (PDPS). Between May 2021 and early 2022, PDPS put in a huge amount of work communicating with Pauanui ratepayers the need to undertake this work and helped disseminate some of the science and misinformation around coastal restoration work. Ultimately, the group and its members grew and gathered a large amount of community support for the project, as well as contributing to the restoration concept design and financing of native plant purchases.

This work culminated in May 2022, where one of NZ’s largest ever (and Thames-Coromandel District Council’s largest) single restoration events took place. We had over 200 volunteers to help put over 13,000 native dune plants in the ground over a 265 m length of shoreline. The success of this event, and the hard graft leading up to it, shows the level of engagement that is both required and pertinent to large-scale restoration work. As a result, PDPS and TCDC intend to broaden the scope of this work further north and south of the project area.

In the face of pending sea level rise and expected coastal erosion, we envisage that the magnitude of coastal restoration required to help combat future impacts needs to increase. The work presented at Pauanui highlights there are challenges in how this is completed. However, with a clear and transparent process that is based on sound science, we believe that this level of coastal restoration is fully achievable and necessary if we want to transform suitable adaptation of the coastal zone.”

You can keep up with the Pauanui Dune Protection Society’s work on the Waikato Coastcare Facebook page, or learn more on the Thames Coromandel District Council website.

Coastal videos launched in Wellington

While all of us from CRT were in Wellington recently for our annual 2-day meeting, we celebrated the launch of our first series of videos as part of the Videos and Workshops Project.

These videos were created by our long-term supporters from Southlight, Simon Hoyle and Janet Andrews, with help from David Bergin (CRT trustee) and Jim Dahm (contractor and ex-trustee) and funding from the Department of Conservation Community Fund.

The videos can be watched here or directly on YouTube.

See also our project page.

A new series is being worked on and we hope to have those available early next year.

Application to release bud-galling wasp approved

The Environmental Protection Authority/ Te Mana Rauhī Taiao has approved the application to import and release the bud-galling wasp Trichilogaster acaciaelongifoliae as a biological control agent for Sydney golden wattle, Acacia longifolia.

Horizons Regional Council applied for this as there is lots of Sydney golden wattle in the dunes of their rohe.

Our Trust supported this application.

To read more go to the EPA website.

What do we know about the impacts of vehicles on beaches in New Zealand? An annotated bibliography of information.

Graeme La Cock (Trustee and DOC)

For coastal communities concerned about their beaches and dunes, vehicle access is always a hot topic. Department of Conservation and council staff share similar concerns.

I wear two hats, one as a trustee of the CRTNZ, one as a technical adviser for DOC. One day a few years ago, while I was minding my own business as usual in DOC’s Kenepuru Office, there was a flurry of activity about a friendly person caught driving illegally in the scientific reserve at Waikanae Estuary. He’d politely enquired about New Zealand evidence on vehicles damaging beaches. With my interest in coastal issues, I got roped in. With the help of my networks I found enough for the manager to make an informed decision, but it wasn’t a lot. It also wasn’t collated in any way.

Since then I’ve scavenged and scrounged reports, leading to the publication of an annotated bibliography on the subject. The aim was to make these reports available to decision makers and communities facing the issue of vehicles on their beaches, so links are provided for almost all of them. Feel free to share it as you please; that’s what it’s for.

In 1999 Gary Stephenson reviewed vehicles on beaches in New Zealand for DOC. Much of his advice was based on overseas literature, and he highlighted what was lacking from a New Zealand perspective. Subsequent guidance documents, e.g. by DOC, the Trust and various councils, also relied heavily on overseas work.

What did I find? Has there been any progress?

When one considers the 1994 New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement didn’t mention vehicles, having a policy on them in the 2010 NZCPS is significant progress. There has been progress in some fields, but others are still lacking.

Shellfish have the best coverage, with bodies of work centred around Northland, Canterbury and Otago/Southland. The early work on the mechanism of vehicle impacts on toheroa on Ninety-mile beach is fascinating, but for me the way Moller et al (2014) pulled together the work on Oreti Beach was a highlight. With the body of work around New Zealand on shellfish I believe there’s enough to draw on for decision makers in this field. Unfortunately no other field of study comes close.

Another outstanding body of work is that initiated by Marlborough District Council following uplift of their beaches after the Kaikoura earthquake. It includes the only quantitative work on impacts of vehicles on birds (Orchard et al 2022).

Quantitative studies on impacts on vegetation are also lacking. There’s one example in New Zealand – I included data from my son’s primary school science fair project on damage to spinifex at Castlecliff in Horizons One Plan evidence (La Cock 2008). I haven’t found any studies on impacts on reptiles, mammals and insects.

Only five of the 38 reports are published in the scientific literature. The rest include undergraduate projects and theses, and consultancy, crown research and government agency reports. I was encouraged by the more recent undergraduate and postgraduate work being based on drone imagery, GIS spatial analysis and remote sensing techniques.

There’s hope for the future, but there’s a lot of scope to do more, especially on plants, birds and other terrestrial fauna. I recall the same message in 1999.

The NZCPS 2010 has a powerfully worded policy on vehicles on beaches. Hopefully this bibliography will assist decision makers and the public.

The bibliography is here: .