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Island Bay Coast Care
The Island Bay Coast Care group was set up in 2003 by a group of passionate and dedicated local residents who have been working together with the wider community to restore native plants to a small and degraded, but important dune remnant at Island Bay beach. The dune is noted on a national dune register for its Pingao. The Island Bay dune system used to extend right back to Severn St before development and roading reduced it to the small remnant it is today. Local residents first became concerned about the area when they noticed a bulldozer on the dunes clearing a path through the vegetation to put in a boardwalk. They contacted the Wellington City Council to discuss the issue, and have since worked together with them to turn the project into a dune restoration effort. Wellington City Council provided native plants to replace those damaged by the bulldozer and the group has been instrumental in the City Council’s decision to fence off the dune to protect the fragile dune plants from accidentally being destroyed by people walking over them. The group started to hold public working bees to revegetate the dune with native species in 2003 using native sand gasses such as Pingao and Spinifex which trap sand and stabilise dunes, allowing them to rebuild quickly after high tides and storm events.
From 2004 until 2011 the group received Take Care funding through Greater Wellington. This has enabled them to achieve a stunning change in the dune vegetation. When the group started the dune was infested with an impressive variety of introduced weeds and was dominated by invasive Marram grass. Huge swathes of endangered native Pingao now cover large areas of the dune. Native Spinifex has also become established along the toe of the dune and is working well to rebuild areas of sand eroded by high sea levels after storms.
In addition to the usual native foredune species, a variety of backdune native species were also planted long the road side of the dune including some rare and unusual species, and many are now flourishing. These include rare Euphorbia glauca and Muehlenbeckia astonii and native bidibid Aceana pallida which is only found naturally in Wellington and Otago.
All plants have been eco-sourced where possible (Spinifex has not been seeding on the South Coast).
The conservation gains resulting from this project have been substantial! The Island Bay Coast Care group have planted approximately 25,000 native plants on the Island Bay sand dune since they started in 2003. They have also removed huge quantities of Marram grass and other invasive weeds and continue to carry out a vigilant weeding programme through the areas they have already planted to ensure that natives are not threatened by re-infestation.
Over the years there have been a number of large public working bees as well as corporate groups held each year which can attract people from all over Wellington. There are also smaller, regular working bees held on weekends. This group also work on the Oku Reserve which is a native plant restoration project on the hill up behind the beach, and between these two projects, the group often works around 10 scheduled weekends per year.