Project Janszoon is working on three fronts when it comes to sand dunes. Removing highly flammable gorse to reduce fire risk, planting natives to build natural resilience to the effects of sea level rising, and making the dunes more aesthetically pleasing.

None of the dune work could be achieved without huge efforts from wonderful volunteers including Birdsong Trust and Forest and Bird members, and students from our Adopt a Section schools. Not only do they help with planting, but they also assist in the much less glamourous work of weeding.

Nelson’s dry, hot climate and an abundance of highly flammable plants means fire is a real risk in Abel Tasman. The Fire Smart programme was set up to tackle this problem.

The Fire Smart programme began at Anchorage in 2013 with DOC removing the gorse and volunteers replacing it with less flammable natives like pingao and spinifex. Motueka High School students and other volunteers have continued working in the area doing planting and weeding.

Dunes exist in a dynamic environment

Sand dunes are important as they are the natural barrier between land and sea and protect inland areas against storms and waves. The ever constant forces of wind and water mean they constantly change and we should expect them to grow, shrink or move.

The native dune species can better withstand inundation by salt water and when they get their roots down will help to bind and rebuild the sand after erosion from storm events.  Recent storm events have tested the dune plantings and in places we have lost plants, and a lot of sand. However natives like spinifex tend to get buried and then grow again, building up the dunes and providing natural resilience over time.

Five other sites, Mosquito Bay, Tinline camp, Appletree Bay, Coquille Bay and Wainui sandspit are also undergoing a makeover.  Motupipi Primary School students help with the work at Wainui. There are plans to begin work at Anapai, Onetahuti, Bark Bay, Tonga Quarry and Porters Beach.

Before and after

Scroll to see the transformation after Firesmart work at Apple Tree Bay

Scroll to see the transformation after Firesmart work at Onetahuti beach

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