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Presentation to Council: Reina Hill

PSR19/025 COASTAL WATTLE MANAGEMENT, LONG BEACH COMMUNITY CONSULTATION OUTCOMES E09.3157 Tuesday 10 September 2019 Presentation to Council by Long Beach Landcare Good morning Mayor Innes and Councillors. This morning I am speaking on behalf of Long Beach Landcare (LBL) I have been actively involved in the care and maintenance of the Long Beach dunes as a Long Beach Landcare volunteer for over 20 years. It is of concern to LBL that there has been so much dissension on the issue of Coastal wattle management. Unfortunately most of the negative discussion has been based on personal opinion and misinformation, rather than on expert scientific knowledge. It has also been more about vested interests, rather than the health and role of the dune as a means of vital coastal protection. Below are some points for councillors to consider when determining the future management of Coastal wattle on the Long Beach Dunes. • Coastal wattle (subsp. Acacia Sophorae) is is well recognised as a pioneer species for colonising and stabilising sand dunes. Its preferred habitats are coastal sand dunes, headlands, and adjacent alluvial flats. • and yes, it can be propagated by animals and even be wind borne. It even grows in some coastal areas of New Zealand and it is certainly NOT endemic to New Zealand. • Coastal wattle occurs naturally in coastal districts of southern NSW. To the best of my knowledge it is not a declared environmental weed, nor a declared noxious weed, in any state or territory government in Australia. • The removal of Coastal wattle from two Illawarra beaches was not for environmental purposes, but rather to provide clearer views of the beaches for beach lifesavers. • The Long Beach dune is not classified as a coastal heathland as claimed by some in the community. In fact, the cleared land at the western end of Long beach displays none of the characteristics of coastal heathland, but was cleared of its naturally occurring vegetation in the early part of last century by the Blair family for farming purposes. • The land fronting new Sandy Place was heavily vegetated before it was drastically cleared for the development of the Long Beach Estate. I regularly walked along the track in the mid 1970s, long before the Estate was an issue, and have a vivid recall of the abundant naturally occurring vegetation there. • The approval of the Long Beach Estate was conditional on the developer to implement and finance a dune management scheme for a minimum five year period in accordance with the plan devised by the then NSW Dept. of Conservation and Land Management (CaLM). This involved the planting of deep rooted and varied vegetation that would stabilise the dune and prevent erosion. Since then Council has been responsible for the management of the Long Beach foreshore, with the majority of dune maintenance undertaken by Long Beach Landcare volunteers. • Despite claims to the contrary, Coastal wattle is not growing in 'open space'. The area currently zoned E2 (Coastal Environment) is the zoning which generally applies to important wetlands and coastal foreshores. • Although Coastal wattle seed was broadcast on the dune as per the CaLM plan, seeds would also have been dispersed naturally by animals such as ants, birds and reptiles. • Coastal wattle management was initially an approved management regime undertaken by Landcare. • After a great deal of debate about the origins of the coastal wattle on the Long Beach dunes, the Eco Logical study was commissioned by Council and Long Beach Landcare and undertaken with the support of LBCA. This resulted in the Coastal Wattle Control Implementation Plan. The Study provided assistance in proceeding with a Property Vegetation plan (PVP) and was funded through the NSW Environmental Trust over a four year period between 2013-2017. • The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Assessment of Long Beach Coastal Wattle Management Project evaluated the funding and significant Council resources expended, to determine if the Project had resulted in environmental outcomes consistent with best practice dune rehabilitation. • The OEH Assessment was presented to the Ordinary Meeting of Council on 28 November 2018 (Motion 18/58) for consideration. The determination was for a deferral pending ‘further consultation between the interested parties’ outlining the outcomes for consideration, and contained recommendations for future dune and Coastal wattle management at Long Beach. It is of major concern to LBL that these recommendations are consistent with the environmental and social values of the Long Beach community as a whole - not just those of a minority of vested interests. But, most importantly that, Councillors support the on-going protection of the Long Beach dunes, to be effective in their important coastal protection role for the benefit of all Long Beach residents. LBL is concerned that the five motions as proposed by LBCA in their presentation to Council on Tuesday 28 November, largely ignored the expert advice provided by OEH. Instead their motions focused on 'restoring' the area to an open heathland, free of Coastal wattle'. Their proposal to plant only grasses and coastal heath vegetation, to the exclusion of canopy species, is scientifically unsound and clearly does not follow best practice dune management. It is also contrary to ecologically sustainable principles and would be totally ineffective in stabilising the dune and in preventing coastal erosion. Furthermore, the proposal would be contrary to the original Long Beach Development approval condition – to implement a dune management scheme that would stabilise the dune and prevent erosion through the planting of deep rooted and varied vegetation. Long Beach Landcare has a high regard for the professional advice provided by the OEH in their Environmental Assessment of the Long Beach Coastal Wattle Management Program and fully endorse their recommendations for future dune management at Long Beach and more broadly across the Eurobodalla. We trust that Councillors will adopt the recommendations as presented in PSR19/025 Coastal Wattle Management, Long Beach Community Consultation Outcomes E09.3157, namely, that Council; 1. Assist Long Beach Landcare and Long Beach Community Association to continue maintenance of the coastal wattle on Long Beach reserve by; (a) ongoing coastal wattle removal on the northern side of the walking track (b) ongoing coastal wattle removal in the wetland zone (c) coastal wattle removal 2m either side of the beach access tracks (d) maintaining the current line of 2016 containment of the coastal wattle (e) allowing natural regeneration of native species. 2. Continue weed and pest animal control throughout the Long Beach reserve. 3. Monitor and report to the community groups following any mapping and aerial review of the Long Beach foreshore reserve in respect to the coastal wattle and regeneration of native plant species. In response to the presentation to Councillors Ms Hill was asked a question about the fire risk behind Sandy Place and was I not concerned about it. Ms Hill offers her recollection "In my response I made it clear that it is an issue for the whole of Long Beach – not just Sandy Place. The threat would come from the west, not from the south facing dunes. The local fire brigade has already done a burn-off above Sandy Place and hazard protection zones behind Sandy Place have been increased. "Another question was about the importance of the dunes, in regard to coastal management. "Dunes are widely recognised as the first line of defence in coastal protection. Coastal wattle is a pioneer species for colonising and stabilising dunes. It also acts a nitrogen fixer and provides shelter for smaller plants. It is hard to establish smaller plants at the western end of Long Beach because of the salt laden air. They would not survive without the protection of taller species."

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