Kiwi Conservation Club members under the Coast Care sign
Castlecliff Coast Care group are, through education and demonstration, enhancing the community’s recognition of the value of coastal dunes and their ecological fragility.
A sub-group of Progress Castlecliff, the Coast Care group was formed by Ted Frost in 2007 to implement his ideas for an enhanced community facility at Castlecliff Beach.
Ted called it his "2020 Vision for the Castlecliff Coastal Reserve". With the support of the community and the many stakeholders, Ted and the Coast Care members are busy working to restore the sand dunes ecology, provide stability to the dunes, and enhance the community's recognition of the value of coastal dunes and their ecological fragility.
Castlecliff Coast Care's dune restoration area focuses primarily on an area of the rear dunes, just south of the Duncan Pavilion. It is adjacent to the large grassed domain beside Beach Front Road, and only 200 meters from the children's play area, Skate park, and free barbecues.
A testament to Ted's foresight, the last six years has seen a huge increase in interest and involvement of many community groups:
- Since March 2009 over 5,500 voluntary hours, valued at $139,000 have been contributed.
- Most of these have been contributed by local community groups and Whanganui school children.
- About 600 plants have been added to the dune areas each year. These are provided by Whanganui District Council, DOC, local nurseries and through seedlings donated by local people.
- The group has received several regional weed buster awards, a National DOC Conservation 2010 award and the NZ Dune Restoration Trust's "Best Coastal Community Group" award 2012.
The overall number of people participating is high. In addition to the winter community planting days, people from a wide range of organisations and community groups also participate. This includes; local schools, home schooled children, a YMCA holiday programme, early childhood groups, brownies and volunteers wanting to progress to regular work.
Castlecliff School children about to plant a native shrub
Developing 'ownership' is a key component of any community development program. All the people contributing their time 'have learned through participation and discussion' about the fragile foreshore and dune areas, and how the native plants used in dune restoration can help to stabilize and enhance the area. The school children contributing to the Coast Care project are provided with a 20-30 minute educational session. This focuses on the history and botany of the coastal reserve. At one session three Australian visitors staying at the local camp ground joined in!
Improved amenity value
With some plants now seven years old the restoration work is more visible and local people walking in the reserve have stopped to comment favourably on the improvements. Birds are moving into the areas, and children on 'bugs and beasties hunts' have found skinks.
Teaching and research in the outdoors
Development of 'enviro-areas' and suitable support material provides participants with opportunities to monitor birds and animals. Students from Earlham College (USA) have carried out detailed surveys of the plants and weeds in the dune restoration area.
You can help
Kiwi Conservation Club members planting spinifex
The activities change with the seasons, winter is planting time, while in summer top priority is mulching and watering. At other times the group undertake weeding, removal of pink ragwort, and general maintenance of the re-planted areas.
Some members also undertake the rearing of small seedlings and make cuttings. They would love to develop seed harvesting and the growing of their own eco-sourced plants. They have developed animal habitat by placing drift wood around the areas to encourage 'creepy crawlies' and put out some homemade skink 'houses'. One member is using tracking tunnels to monitor predator numbers.
Graham Pearson is contracted as the coordinator, and is available to assist school and community groups and volunteers during weekdays. Activities are seasonal and weather dependant, but Graham can usually organise a variety of activities to maintain group interest, with tasks at a level appropriate to the group. Graham also provides the 20-30 minute introductory talk.
For further information contact:
Graham and Lyn Pearson
Ph: +64 6 344 1012
Castlecliff Coast Care gratefully acknowledge the financial and in-kind support it has received from, Wanganui District Council and their staff, Horizons Regional Council and their staff, Department of Conservation (both locally and in Wellington), World Wildlife Fund, T G McCarthy Trust, Wanganui Royal Forest & Bird Society, River City Tree Services, Quay Copy Centre, Mitre 10, BNZ staff, Castlecliff Community Trust, Friends of Gordon Park, Stihl Shop Wanganui, Parnell Nursery, Kii Tahi Nursery and CIE Nursery.
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