Dunes Seen in a New Light
Published in The Hutt News on 16 August 2011
Anyone who heard Graeme Lyon speak on the Petone Dune Restoration Project at Lower Hutt Forest & Bird on August 4 would probably never view dunes the same way again.
Mr Lyon showed how dunes play a vital role in the protection of beaches against battering from storms, tsunamis, earthquakes and rising sea levels. If dunes are not maintained properly, constant battering from these forces will erode the beach, reduce the coastline and push the sand further inland. There sand deposits will be a nuisance to streets, gardens and residents. The native ecology and coast life of beaches will be threatened. And an eroded beach will give little pleasure to its residents.
This is why projects like the Petone Dune Restoration Project are running all over New Zealand. Their aim is to restore dunes to their natural state with planting of native seedlings. The plantings are meant to trap sand and reinforce the dunes as natural barriers against coastal erosion.
The Petone Dune Restoration Project is the work of Friends of Petone Dunes, a group founded by Roy Hewson, who has worked to beautify Petone Beach for over thirty years and more recently clean, restore and weed the dunes. The project itself began in 2004, and covered the entire 2 km stretch of beach between dunes of marram at one end and the gravel works at the other. The project started with the planting of pingao, which was followed by spinifex. These have been the main species used in the plantings, though other species include bidibid, tahinu, and pohuehue. Less welcome species include foreign weeds which have to be constantly eradicated, marram, a native dune species that belongs on steep beaches, and other native species which have blown in. A pohutukawa tree has been left as a reference point for progressive photos that are taken to show the progress of the project. Graeme’s presentation included slides that show the effect of trials, survival rates and spread increment. The project has also been the subject of scientific trials; one included a 2007 project conducted by Dave and Michael Bergin of Environmental Restoration Ltd.
Friends of Petone Beach hold working bees every first and third Thursday of the month throughout the year, with plantings in the autumn/winter months. If you are interested, meet at 9am at Petone Wharf on a first or third Thursday of the month. Contact Graeme Lyon phone 938-4583 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.