Most people consider NSW far south coast beaches to be pristine. They are clean and weed free for a reason and it’s called the Coastal Weeds Project.
The project is celebrating ten years of success this year and Eurobodalla Council has been part of this multi-agency, community-based program from the outset. We fund annual beach sweeps that remove weeds and marine debris from our remotest beaches between Narooma and Wallaga Lake. We’re fortunate that Eurobodalla’s fantastic Landcare volunteers are doing a wonderful job looking after most of the rest of the coastline.
One decade on and the achievements are remarkable. Compare our pristine coastline to the situation on many of our beaches ten years ago, or more starkly, to other parts of the Australian coast where no such work is underway. In Victoria, for instance, great swathes of sea spurge are dominating the dunes at Wilsons Promontory, completely suppressing native coastal vegetation and forming a monoculture of sticky, sap-producing plants.
Through the Coastal Weeds Project, Council has mapped all the weeds on every beach in Eurobodalla. On-ground workers have already picked up a potential new invader called Dune Onion Weed, which has the capacity to take over large tracts of our pristine coastline. Only one plant was found and was promptly dug out, bagged and disposed of. This just goes to show what can wash in from the ocean, and why we need to be vigilant.
The program currently includes the removal of one of our worst beach invaders, Marram Grass. This hardy perennial grass from Europe was originally planted to stabilise sand dunes, however ‘back in the day’ - like the planting of willows and the introduction of foxes and rabbits - we didn’t properly understand Australian coastal processes.
We have since understood that Marram Grass radically alters our coastal landscapes by trapping normally mobile sand and producing large steep-faced dunes that are far more susceptible to wave erosion than normal dune systems. These steep dunes allow unbridled wave energy to reach the beach, leading to an increase in coastal recession.
This loss of mobile sand and creation of steep-faced dunes also means a loss in nesting sites for threatened shorebirds such as the Hooded Plover, Little Tern and Pied Oystercatcher. Fortunately, we are in a position to remove Marram Grass from our coastal areas before it does any more damage. Our native coastal plants such as Spinifex will quickly recolonise the areas where Marram Grass has been removed, and slowly start turning these altered areas back into normal systems.
Landcare’s Coastal Weeds Project has produced a short video to mark the ten-year milestone.
If you would like to get involved in the project and help protect our coastline, please contact Council’s Invasive Species Supervisor Paul Martin on 4474 1269 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Above: replanting areas of controlled Marram in Durras South Media Release