Landcare work to save Caves Beach dunes

If not for dunes, Australian beaches would be rocky like some English beaches.

Landcare members, who believe that’s a horrendous thought, are working to ensure it never happens.

Lake Macquarie Landcare Co-ordinator Jason Harvey said volunteers and professional bush regenerators were working to secure the future of Caves Beach dunes.

‘‘If you didn’t have the dunes forming, you’d have a flat surface and sand would blow from beaches onto roads and people’s yards,’’ Mr Harvey said. ‘‘You’d end up with a flat beach that erodes down to rock.’’

‘‘Shingle beaches’’ in England did not have the same coastal processes that created sandy beaches in Australia.

Improving dunes helped the survival of creatures such as birds, marsupial mice, bandicoots, lizards and snakes.

‘‘The dunes give them a secure hideout from predators,’’ Mr Harvey said.

He said sandmining at Caves Beach, which finished in the 1970s, removed vegetation that had stabilised the dunes and bitou bush was used in a misguided attempt to regenerate the area.

‘‘Bitou worked well as a dune-stabiliser because it loved the sandy environment and grew quickly,’’ Mr Harvey said. ‘‘At that stage there wasn’t the realisation of its capacity to be such a significant environmental weed.’’

It killed off native vegetation and formed a monoculture, but was now removed.

Landcarers are working to control weeds and re-establish native plant communities and improve biodiversity.

They say it’s not a bad place to work. Occasionally, they glimpse migrating whales heading north to warm water.

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