Coastal dunes: the shifting sands
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?