Coastal dunes: the shift­ing sands

Stanthorpe Border Post - - NIE -

ALONG Aus­tralia’s coast, sand dunes are a dom­i­nant land­form, and come in a re­mark­able range of shapes and sizes, depend­ing on the amount of sand avail­able, the size of the sand, and the pre­vail­ing wind di­rec­tions.

Over time dunes can grow, shrink or move.

The ac­cu­mu­la­tion of sand trans­ported to the coast by waves, cur­rents and strong on­shore winds, and de­posited be­hind the beach, cre­ates these coastal dunes.

As grains of sand ac­cu­mu­late and get trapped in veg­e­ta­tion or at the base of cliffs and hills, dunes form.

Coastal veg­e­ta­tion plays an im­por­tant role in main­tain­ing these dune sys­tems – it acts as a wind­break, trap­ping de­posited sand par­ti­cles and sta­bil­is­ing the dune sys­tem.

With­out veg­e­ta­tion, this nat­u­ral pro­tec­tive bar­rier would be lost to the ef­fects of wind and wave ero­sion.

Sand dunes also play an im­por­tant role act­ing as a buf­fer against wave dam­age dur­ing storms and pro­tect­ing land be­hind the dune from salt­wa­ter in­tru­sion.

Help save the dunes

The dune sys­tem of a beach plays a vi­tal role in coastal pro­cesses. Dunes sup­port a wide ar­ray of plants and an­i­mals such as nest­ing tur­tles and rare or en­dan­gered bird species.

Healthy dunes are our de­fence against ero­sion so the pre­ven­tion and con­trol of them is very im­por­tant.

Lo­cal coun­cils and state gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties work to­gether with coastal com­mu­nity land care groups to de­velop coastal dune man­age­ment plans to pro­vide en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion for im­por­tant eco­log­i­cal habi­tats in and around sand dunes and pro­grams to nour­ish and re­store beach dunes bat­tered by cli­matic forces like storms and high tide wave ac­tion and hu­man de­struc­tion.

What can you do?

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