|Location||North Beach, Western Australia|
|National priority area:||Coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats|
|Funding:||$19 728 (2009-10 Community Action Grants)|
|Partners:||Perth Region NRM
Conservation Volunteers Australia
Edith Cowan University
Natural Area Management Services
Coastal Rehabilitation of North Beach to Watermans Bay Linkage
Rehabilitating Perth's north coast between North Beach and Waterman's Bay.
CSIRO estimates that environmental repair costs about 10 times more than managing an equivalent area in pristine condition*. This crucial fact is not lost on a small but dedicated group of Perth north coast residents, who have rehabilitated the fragile Tamala limestone coastal site from North Beach to Watermans Bay.
Stirling Natural Environment Coastcare consists of 30 volunteers - mostly retirees - who recognise the financial and environmental importance of retaining quality coastal vegetation. They received a $19 728 Community Action Grant from Caring for our Country to enable them to address a national priority of protecting coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats through weekly crusades against coastal degradation and weed invasion.
Convenor Rae Kolb says “perseverance on all fronts pays. The area had been in a degraded state for many years, covered in weed species - the area was embarrassing to walk past”.
In 2010, volunteers accumulated more than 2000 hours of labour - worth more than $65 000 at the standard hourly rate - culminating in the removal of more than three truckloads of weeds. Species targeted included: tetragonia, pelargonium, gazania, clover, buffalo grass, Japanese pepper, Victorian tea tree, fumaria, wild oats, arctotis, radish, winter grasses, freesia, lupins, couch grass, lantana, osteospermum, cape lilac, yucca, fennel and summer grasses.
More than 4000 local native plants were planted and the strong survival rate is testament to the volunteers’ commitment to ongoing site maintenance. Seedlings were bagged and staked to improve plant survival rate and native seedlings were hand-watered due to lack of rain. Plant protectors have since been removed on all sites and all planting sites are practically weed-free.
Rae says the delight for all concerned is in seeing the gradual restoration of a natural area take place. “This is particularly when we see regrowth occurring as a result of natural reseeding once the surrounding weed burden is removed.”
Volunteers used aerial maps obtained through the WA Department of Planning to map the City of Stirling coastline, detailing weed infestations, important vegetation communities, geological features, recreational features and points of interest. These maps will help to align future projects with local government management plans.
Other on-ground work includes erosion control (mulching, brushing and installation of jute matting), annual participation in Clean-up Australia day and participation in the Education Department’s community service program. This involves working with several local schools to collect rubbish and improve the visual amenity of the coastline.
Rae says a highlight of the project is “being recognised through funding as being worthy”.
“Another highlight is the discovery of pink fairy orchids right next to the limestone cliff areas and finding signs (eggs and larvae) that the yellow admiral butterfly had visited the site,” Rae says.
The work of these volunteers is crucial not only to the coastal foreshore but to the surrounding Swan Coastal Plain, where native vegetation is highly fragmented.
According to Coastal Plants: A Guide to the Identification and restoration of plants of the Perth Region by Kingsley Dixon, “what is clear from many years of painstaking restoration along the coast is that protecting and managing pristine areas before they become degraded is an order of magnitude cheaper than repair and restoration of a degraded site”.
* Kingsley D, 2011, Coastal Plants: A guide to the identification and restoration of plants of the Perth region.