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Riversdale Beach Community Association [RBCA] building coastal resilience

Ewan Aiken in the yellow shirt demonstrating how to plant on the dunes.

Posted on June 12, 2024

More than 30 volunteers spent the first Sunday of June busy planting 1000 native grasses in Wairarapa coastal sand dunes.

The annual Riversdale Beach planting day is a community-led conservation effort to restore and protect the dunes.

It’s a collaborative effort between volunteers from the Riversdale Beach Community Association [RBCA] and is funded by Masterton District Council [MDC] and Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC].

RBCA president Marquerite Vierstraete-Williams said the usually well-attended initiative saw 36 adults and many children “who played their part”.

“Often with events like this, it’s the people that live here who end up doing it, and that wasn’t the case on Sunday at all,” she said.

“There were lots of motivated people who cared, and that was really nice.”

Vierstraete-Williams said the recent efforts are part of the dune planting programme, which has been running for about 20 years.

It is designed to ensure the dunes are looked after through the restoration of plants and natives, preventing erosion and promoting coastal resilience.

GWRC environment restoration advisor Ewan Aiken, who hosted a talk at the planting day, said that Riversdale Beach has a strong community and is loved by many in the summer months.

“The annual planting day is just one of the ways we collectively care for the environment,” Aiken said.

“It is also a native biodiversity ‘hot spot’, with 30 nationally threatened or at-risk species in the area.”

GWRC and MDC have a memorandum of understanding to fund the activity through an annual contribution to the Key Native Ecosystem [KNE] programme.

“We protect and support the region’s naturally occurring ecosystems of native plants and wildlife,” he said.

The programme includes ecological weed control, pest control, and other planting activities.

The two native grass species called spinifex [spinifex sericeus] and pīngao [Ficinia spiralis] that were planted had a value of $3135.4 [excluding GST].

GWRC said the grasses are primary New Zealand native sand binders used to restore sand dunes and prevent erosion, and are more tolerant to saltwater.

“The plants were grown from eco-sourced seeds.”

“We provided seeds collected from Riversdale Beach, which were germinated and returned to the area as plants.”


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