With the holidays upon us and the promise of sunny beach days ahead, Coast Care Bay of Plenty is reminding beach users to be proactive in taking care of the region's pristine coastline and beaches.
Coast Care, a coastal restoration programme that has been operating since 1994, is run in close partnership with local communities, schools and authorities to restore and protect the sand dunes along Bay of Plenty beaches.
“We work hard with locals year-round to protect and restore our dunes, so with summer welcoming more people to the beach, we’re asking everyone to please be aware of these fragile ecosystems while enjoying our coast,” says Russell Knutson, Coast Care Regional Coordinator.
This sentiment was echoed in the results of Coast Care’s newly released 2023 Beach User Survey. With more than 600 responses from people across the region, the survey results highlight the importance of community involvement in maintaining the health and vitality of the coastal environment.
It also shows a shift in community priorities and values since the last survey was carried out in 2014, with some key themes emerging that will inform the future direction of Coast Care.
"The sandy dunes that span 156km along the Bay of Plenty coastline are not just a gateway for summer activities; they are a living, breathing ecosystem that supports diverse native species, provides recreational space for families, and acts as natural barrier against coastal hazards. These coastal areas play an important part in our community's wellbeing," says Mr Knutson.
“Natural beauty and wildlife has risen to the top of the values cherished by beach users. It's a clear signal that our community places a premium on sustainable conservation efforts.”
Most respondents favour environmentally friendly methods for coastal preservation, with dune planting emerging as a top choice.
“It's encouraging to see our community embrace these sustainable initiatives to ensure the longevity of our beaches, dunes, and coastal property. It’s also another reason to take care of our dunes over the busiest season. Feet and vehicles destroy dunes, all the more reason to stick to the official accessways,” says Mr Knutson.
The survey results show there is support for restrictions on vehicle access and a call for councils to enforce rules to support safer beaches for families and children.
"As we enjoy the sun and surf, it's essential to be mindful of our human impacts. The beach is a shared place. Everyone can do their part this summer to keep our coastal systems protected, dunes preserved and ultimately enjoyed safely by all," says Mr Knutson.
Read the full 2023 Beach User Survey report here.
Coast Care Bay of Plenty is run in partnership with all four coastal district and city councils (Western Bay of Plenty, Tauranga, Ōpōtiki and Whakatāne) and the Department of Conservation. Learn more here: boprc.govt.nz/coast-care