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CONTENTS 001 Our coastal environment 002 Why care for coastal dunes? 003 The formation of dunes 004 Dune vegetation 010 Dispersal and succession of dune plants 011 Dunes are habitat too 015 Impacts to dunes 017 Weeds 020 We need to plan 029 Hazards on the dunes 030 Monitoring and recording

Building dunes for the community and the coast was produced by the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management’s BeachCare Program, in partnership with the City of Gold Coast. Edited by: Naomi Edwards, Peta Williams and Sally Obst Published: March 2013

Griffith Centre for Coastal Management Griffith University, Gold Coast campus 07 5552 8506 I Thank you to all BeachCare volunteers past and present for the inspiration to develop this practical and insightful community focused booklet about coastal dunes.

OUR COASTAL ENVIRONMENT The coastal environment is home to a wide diversity of plants and animals, and yet it only makes up 4% of the total world’s landmass. Many livelihoods and cultures are connected to the coast and as over 85% of Australia’s population lives within 50 km of our coastline our culture has been shaped by the essence our coast provides1. The coastal zone is a valuable landscape experiencing many pressures. There are threats to our precious coastal resources, ecosystems, our traditions and lifestyles. Sustainable coastal management is a key element in balancing the needs of society and the protection of the natural environment and ensuring the values of the coastal zone are there for future generations to come. The Gold Coast is an urbanised coastal region, with 42 km of ocean foreshore and over 600 km of scenic waterways. The Gold Coast offers an array of coastal treasures, which are cherished for their recreational values, and these areas also hold much intrinsic and aesthetic value to those who use them. With long sandy beaches, rocky headlands and public access to every beach, the coastal environment is reflected throughout the city’s atmosphere. The Gold Coast can be seen as one of Australia’s highly managed coastlines with a legacy of coastal development extending throughout the coastal zone. The late 1940s and 1950s saw a period of extensive population growth and development as people discovered the treasures at hand. After numerous storms and severe beach erosion during the 1960s and 1970s only a narrow strip of coastal dunes remain between the ocean and the development. Past development, although effective and needed at the time, plus unimaginable effects from the coast’s natural forces have created some difficulties for the now threatened dune environment. This coastal corridor is one of the only natural barriers between mother earth and ourselves and is in need of protection. Part of the success towards a healthier coastal environment is following best planning practices and adaptive policies. A groundswell of community participation in coastal conservation is part of the recipe and leads to stewardship of the coast. Caring for our dunes is just one way many can become part of this plan. There is no better time than the present to become active in helping to protect, restore and preserve the coast that many call home.

May this booklet inspire interest to help care for Gold Coast’s dunes and increase awareness of our unique coastal environment. ABS (2002) Regional Population Growth, Australia and New Zealand, 2001‐02. Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 3218.0.



WHY CARE FOR COASTAL DUNES? Dunes are critical to the health of our beaches. They help stabilise our coastline, act as buffer zones that reduce the impacts of shoreline variability from storms, provide critical habitat for coastal fauna and an aesthetic connection to the natural coastal environment. THE AIM OF DUNE CARE Dune care proactively encourages those with a love of the coast to effectively help restore and manage coastal dune systems. With the ultimate aim of a sustainable coastal dune system, this can be achieved through on-ground restoration action and increased public awareness for the importance of healthy dunes and the creation of partnerships. BeachCare is Gold Coast’s dune care program facilitated by Griffith Centre for Coastal Management (GCCM), with support and funding from the City of Gold Coast. BeachCare actively encourages many with a love for the coast to collectively work together to take care of the Gold Coast’s coastal environment. This has been successfully achieved through community dune care activities, the distribution of coastal information within the community and the establishment of ‘self-sufficient’ community dune care groups, allowing for many to care for a coastal pocket. Additionally, by promoting awareness of coastal processes and management, BeachCare reaches out to the wider community to encourage all to engage in decision-making processes, as well as offering opportunities to be involved in larger projects such as the revegetation of the Gold Coast’s dunes.

THE FORMATION OF DUNES? WHAT IS A DUNE? A dune is the net build up of sand that accumulates at the back of the beach. Sand is captured by coastal vegetation, essentially creating undulated mounds of sand covered by plants. Therefore, a dune is the coastal vegetated strip that separates a sandy shore from what lies behind a dune. For example, on the Gold Coast, it is the coastal vegetated fringe between the beaches and built environment.

ZONES OF A DUNE There are fundamentally three zones to a dunal system, though this is dependent on the surrounding landscape and local coastal processes. The formation of each zone relates to the type of vegetation, the level of wind exposure and supply of sand. Please see the dune zone profile on page 2.

FRONTAL DUNE/ STRANDLINE ZONE The frontal dune is the vegetation adjacent to the beach. It is the most active and vulnerable zone, with open exposure and vulnerability to all the elements. This zone is characterised by ground-layer plants and the occasional shrub. Such species capture and hold windblown sand, which allows for the development of a sand ‘bank’ and the formation of dunes. An adequate sand bank provides protection in the event of storms and erosion. Without vegetation, much of the sand would be blown from the beach and out of the active beach system resulting in an overall loss of sand.

MID DUNE The mid dune, also referred to as the secondary dune, establishes beyond the frontal dune. There is a clear process of succession between the zones of a dune system, which results in the creation of undulated sweeping dunes. This zone is more complex than the frontal dune and there is a wider diversity of shrubs and stunted trees that start to colonise the sand. The mid dune often includes swale areas (valley-like contours) and provides protection from the exposed elements of the frontal dune. This allows the colonisation of a wider diversity of plants and initial nutrient cycling.

HIND DUNE The hind dune is the tertiary zone, which completes a dune system. This zone is further protected from the coastal elements, resulting in increased nutrients and moisture availability for the colonisation of the more established shrubs and trees. This zone eventually forms littoral rainforest or coastal heath environments. This zone is critical habitat for the many animals that call the coast home. On the Gold Coast, one mostly sees only the frontal and mid dune system due to the extent of coastal development. There are pockets of complete dunal systems dotted along the coast, which are prime examples of a functioning dunal system. These locations include: • • •

South Stradbroke Island Federation Walk Coastal Reserve, The Spit Tallebudgera Beach


DUNE VEGETATION If no plants were present much of the sand would be blown away and lost. Dune vegetation plays a vital role in the formation and stability of coastal dunes. The types of plants found on the dunes depend on the natural elements and reflect the dune zone. Here are a few examples of the types of plants found in each zone. The following information has been sourced from the Coastal Plant Pocket Guide: The Gold Coast Region2. How do the plants hold onto the sand? The roots of plants help stabilise the sand by binding it together, whilst the above ground parts act as obstructions that reduce the speed of surface winds. In this way, new dunes are formed as sand is captured. The plants that colonise this area are well adapted to tolerate strong winds, smothering by sand, salt spray, low nutrients and low water availability.

FRONTAL DUNE/ STRANDLINE ZONE: Plants that are found in the frontal dune are leading pioneer species for the formation of dunes. Although fragile to physical disturbances, for example, human trampling and strong exposed winds, they can be easily planted and become established within a couple of months. The most common frontal dune species found on Gold Coast’s dunes include:

BEACH SPINIFEX (SPINIFEX SERICEUS) – is an important pioneer sand stabilising plant and salt tolerant with trailing stems growing on the surface or buried in the sand. The hardy grass has leaves that are green-grey in colour with dense, silvery hairs that provide protection from drying conditions. The male flowers (spikelets) are borne in yellow-brown inflorescences on erect stems. The female parts are on a long, spiny head, which detaches from the plant and rolls along the dunes spreading seeds at intervals.

GOAT’S FOOT (IPOMOEA PES-CAPRAE SUBSP. BRASILIENSIS) – is a scrambling groundcover with trailing stems up to 8 m in length, and a primary stabiliser on the dunes. The shape of the leaf blade resembles the footprint of a goat, and has a waxy feel. The pinkpurplish flowers are bell-shaped, 3-7 cm long and borne on long stalks throughout summer. The seed capsule is globular, about 12-15 mm long, brown in colour and contains up to 4 seeds.

GUINEA FLOWER (HIBBERTIA SCANDENS) – is a vigorous, scrambling vine with woody stems that climbs over other vegetation. The large, shiny leaves are tough and often hairy on the underside, with very short stems. New leaf growth and flower buds are covered in silky hairs. Masses of golden flowers up to 5 cm in diameter with five large petals occur throughout the year. Fruit opens to expose bright red flesh-coloured seeds. 2

Coastal Plant Pocket Guide: The Gold Coast Region (2008) Griffith University, Gold Coast.

COASTAL PIGFACE (CARPOBROTUS GLAUCESCENS) – is a succulent, creeping herb with stems that take root at the nodes when they contact the sand and produce upright leafy branches. Leaves are smooth, up to 7 cm long and triangular in cross-section. Flowers are up to 6 cm in diameter and are a deep pink colour, with numerous petals. Fruit is a succulent, edible berry, purplish-red in colour some would say the fruit resembles the shape of a pig’s face.

BEACH BEAN (CANAVALIA ROSEA) – is a another vigorous, scrambling groundcover that rapidly spreads on frontal dune areas, and is often found growing alongside Beach Spinifex and Goat’s Foot. Flowers are pink in colour and bloom all year. Leaves are leathery with three rounded leaflets to 12 cm in length. Seed pods, similar to a bean shape, grow to 15 cm long and are poisonous when mature.

YELLOW BEACH BEAN (VIGNA MARINA) – similar to Beach Bean, this creeping herb also has long stems. Leaves grow in a trifoliate arrangement, however up to 7 cm. The pea-shaped flower is bright yellow and grows up to 15 mm in length throughout the year. Fruit consists of a rounded bean pod up to 8 cm long that droops and twists after dropping seeds.

COASTAL LOVEGRASS (ERAGROSTIS INTERRUPTA) – often described as a tufted grass, the leaves and stems grow to 50 cm long and spread along the surface of the sand. The leaves have a bluish colouring with purplish, flowering spikelets occurring in clusters up to 10 mm long during summer.

BLADY GRASS (IMPERATA CYLINDRICA) – is a grass up to 90 cm tall, often covering extensive, exposed areas on the dunes. The flattish leaves have a reddish tinge at the base. Flowering stems have a silky plume of spikelets, 8 – 25 cm long and occur during spring and summer.

SNAKE VINE (STEPHANIA JAPONICA) – a scrambling vine that flows over and up vegetation with a tear-drop serpent-like leaf shape. Leaves are up to 10 cm wide with prominent veins. Flowers are tiny with 3-6 petals and occur in clusters.


MID DUNE / SECONDARY ZONE Plants that are found in the mid dune are more established looking species, may have hardy stems, are higher in height, and bear edible fruits for native fauna. Such species initiate nutrient cycling of organic matter and form a structural barrier to reduce wind energy, allowing a diversity of coastal plants to succeed. The most common mid dune species found on Gold Coast’s dunes include:

FLAX LILY (DIANELLA CONGESTA) – is a tufted plant up to 1 m in height that forms dense spreading colonies. The strap-like leaves are narrow, smooth and up to 45 cm long. Flowers are blue with yellow markings and are borne on spikes shorter than the leaves. Fruits bearing edible, fleshy berries are bright blue-purple in colour.

COASTAL VITEX (VITEX TRIFOLIA) – is a scrambling shrub that is a useful dune stabiliser, as the stems produce roots when in contact with the sand. Leaves are up to 7 cm long and often with a purplecolour underside and occur in groups of three. Flowers are mauve in colour and have five petals.

COASTAL WATTLE (ACACIA SOPHORAE) – is a very common, dense shrub up to 2.5 m in height. Leaves (or phyllodes) grow 5-9 cm long with a blunt tip. The bright yellow flowers are 2-3 cm and occur on flower spikes.

FAN FLOWER (SCAEVOLA CALENDULACEA) – is a small, succulent, sprawling herb that forms mats on low dunes. Leaves are fleshy and brittle up to 5 cm long with hairs on both surfaces. Flowers are in an open fan-like arrangement that are 15 mm long and purple-blue in colour.

HORSETAIL SHE-OAK (CASUARINA EQUISETIFOLIA) – a tree up to 10 m tall and is easily identified by the weeping ‘horsetail’ foliage. Fine, rigid branchlets are needle-like and jointed by tiny teeth. Male flowers are brown, while red flowers are female and are found on separate trees. Seeds are found in short, woody cones, which are 15 mm in length – these can be very spiky to walk on.

SWAMP SHE-OAK (CASUARINA GLAUCA) – a small tree to 16 m in height and easily identified by its stiff needle-like foliage, similar to the Horsetail She-Oak, however not weeping. Male and female parts are on separate trees and fruit develop into small, brown cone seed-capsules that bear black seeds with transparent wings.

KNOBBY CLUB RUSH (FICINIA NODOSA) – is a grass-like sedge standing up to 80 cm in height with stiff, cylindrical stems. The small, brownish flowers occur in clusters and bear ‘knobby’ looking seed capsules.

MAT RUSH/LOMANDRA (LOMANDRA LONGIFOLIA) – is a spiky grass-like plant that forms large tussocks up to 1 m. Leaves are flat, smooth and up to 15 mm wide with two jagged tips. Fragrant flowers are borne on flattened, straw-coloured stems in prickly clusters, which are followed by brown seed capsules, which are up to 5 mm long.

PANDANUS (PANDANUS TECTORIUS) – is a very common branching tree that grows up to 5 m in height. Although limbs are weak they are supported at the base by exposed prop roots. The 1 m long leaves are fibrous and strap-shaped, narrowing into a point with serrated edges. Flowers are green and form an orange fruiting body (pineapple-like) up to 40 cm long, which breaks into segments to disperse seeds.



Plants that are found in the hind dune include shrubs and trees, with a few low-lying ground covers and climbers. This zone has a high canopy cover, continues nutrient cycling and creates important habitat for native coastal fauna. The most common hind dune species found on Gold Coast’s dunes include:

BEACH ALECTRYON (ALECTRYON CORIACEUS) – is a small tree up to 6 m tall and found in littoral rainforest environments. Leaf arrangements are made up of 2-4 leaflets, 6-11 cm long and are glossy on the top and dull and grey underneath. Flowers are small and greenish-yellow in colour and the fruit capsule is rusty and hairy, which splits to disperse three or four black glossy seeds with a red cover.

COASTAL BANKSIA (BANKSIA INTEGRIFOLIA) – is a common tree up to 15 m in height found in a variety of sandy soils along the coast. Leaves are deep green in colour with a silver white underside up to 20 cm long and are arranged in clusters at branch ends. The striking yellow, bottlebrush type flowers are arranged like candles in spike clusters and are up to 15 cm long. Seed capsules are woody cones and spilt to release paper thin seeds.

COTTONWOOD (HIBISCUS TILIACEUS) – is a spreading tree up to 10 m tall and has large, soft, rounded leaves, 10-15 cm wide. The flowers are bright yellow, 15 cm long and have five petals. Seed capsules are globular and hairy, which release light brown seeds when spilt.

CYPRESS PINE (CALLITRIS COLUMELLARIS) – is known as a coastal christmas tree and growns up to 20 m tall with dark green leaves that are scale-like and rough. Male and female parts of the tree are found on different plants, with the female showing woody-rounded cones up to 2 cm wide and divided into six segments.

TUCKEROO (CUPANIOPSIS ANACARDIOIDES) – is a small tree with a spreading crown up to 10 m tall. Branchlets are grey and the leaves consist of 4-11 leathery leaflets and are dark, glossy with a palerdull underside. The greenish-white flowers grow in clusters and the orange fruit capsules split into three to reveal shiny, black seeds surrounded by soft, yellow edible flesh.

MIDGIN/MIDYIM BERRY (AUSTROMYRTUS DULCIS) – is a small sprawling shrub up to 1 m tall. Leaves are pink and silky when young, up to 2 cm long with a tip tapering to a point. The white flowers blossom into white-grey berries with black spots and are edible.

MACARANGA (MACARANGA TANARIUS) – is a dense tree up to 6 m tall which is found along most of the Gold Coast’s coastline. The branchlets are blue/grey in colour with large rounded leaves up to 25 cm long and have a pointed tip. Flowers are green-yellow in colour and occur in clusters, followed by prickly fruiting capsules that split into three, revealing glossy, black seeds.

The hind dune completes a dune system and where there is management a healthy functioning dune will support primary processes of the coastal environment.


a group of small flowers on sedges and grasses a collective term for the arrangement of a group of flowers a leaf divided into three leaflets a reduce leaf blade that is part of the stem (very common in Acacia sp.)


DISPERSAL AND SUCCESSION OF DUNE PLANTS Spinifex femaile florets in flower

UNDERSTANDING THE BIOLOGY OF DUNE VEGETATION IS IMPORTANT FOR SUSTAINABLE DUNE MANAGEMENT. WHAT IS INCREDIBLE ABOUT DUNE VEGETATION? Simple grasses, succulents and shrubs have colonised the continually moving sand dunes to evolve and form complex coastal dune systems. Even more so, it is the way dune vegetation has engineered strategies to survive in extreme conditions, amid changing coastlines, and ‘glue’ together thousands of year’s worth of sand grains to form living landscapes. Coastal vegetation has thrived in this dynamic environment, which reflects the simple yet definitive seed dispersal techniques and the process of dune succession.

TYPES OF SEED DISPERSAL: OCEAN CURRENTS Ocean currents help disperse many fruits and seeds, which may travel along the coast for thousands of kilometres. Such fruits and seeds are buoyant and can survive in seawater for weeks and even months at a time. Eventually, seeds are washed ashore and if conditions favour germination, plants start to establish and begin to fringe the coast.

WIND There is no shortage of wind at the beach, which is why many dune plants have evolved by utilising wind for seed dispersal. Seeds may be lightweight and even winged, so they can be carried with the wind. Some reproduction processes can be quite complex, which reflects the evolutionary adaptation to survive in a sandy environment. For example, the male flowers of Beach Spinifex disperse pollen, which is carried by the wind to the female spikelet florets (flowering parts). The spikelet floret heads eventually break off and roll across the sand - like a tumbleweed - before establishing further along the dune.


Blady Grass florets in flower

Example of Beach Spinifex spreading across the foredune

Many coastal animals have co-evolved with plants, with fruits being a primary food source. Birds play a critical role in the dispersal of seeds and pollination; such as Flax Lily and Coastal Banksia respectively as they either ingest the seeds and disperse them elsewhere or help pollinate while searching for sweet nectar.

VEGETATIVE SUCCESSION: Vegetative succession is where there is a gradual change in the types of plants across a landscape. During each stage of succession, a plant community alters the soil and microclimate, allowing for the formation and growth of the next group of plant species. One community of plants is therefore replaced by another as vegetation succession develops. The way in which dune plants have pioneered to stabilise dunes is a result of their efficient and effective ability to hold onto sand by their root system and grow extensively across the sand. Low-lying species have shallow roots that sprout from the internodes of the stem e.g. Beach Spinifex, Beach Bean and Goat’s Foot. This promotes the ability to vigorously spread over a dune, to eventually form a mat of vegetation - a ‘carpet’ of dune plants.

Example of Coastal Pigface spreading across the foredune creating a carpet of colourful succulents

A diversity of fore dune species spreading across the dune towards the swale, developing into the mid dune



Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) is a ground-dwelling bird and uses dunes and other coastal environments for nesting. They are notorious for defending their young (Nicolas Rakotopare)

Although dunes play an incredible role in sustaining sand reserves, they also serve as a coastal refuge for fauna. To the untrained eye, one may see the beach as a lifeless sandy landscape, however many birds, reptiles, mammals and even smaller critters live amongst the sand grains calling the coast their home. Dunes are therefore a critical habitat. The number and type of fauna living on Gold Coast dunes depends on the features of each dune. Common fauna found on Gold Coast’s dunes include:

BIRDS: 1) Bush-stone Curlew (Burhinus grallarius) 2) Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta) 3) Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti) 4) Golden-headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis) 5) Brown Gerygone (Gerygone mouki) 6) Pheasant Coucal (Centropus phasianinus) 7) Double-barred Finch (Taeniopygia bichenovii) 8) Bar-shouldered Dove (Geopelia humeralis) 9) Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) 10) Tawny Grassbird (Megalurus timoriensis) You need to be quick to spot a Golden-headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis) (Nicolas Rakotopare)

MIGRATORY BIRDS: Gold Coast’s coastal environment provides an important refuge area for many migratory bird species. The importance of areas such as The Broadwater, Federation Walk Coastal Reserve, South Stradbroke Island and Wavebreak Island are increasing as the Gold Coast grows and becomes more urbanised. These areas support large mixed flocks and roosting sites with some species protected under international treaty agreements such as the Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA) and the China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (CAMBA). For this reason, the protection of our coastal habitat and connecting riparian corridors is extremely important.

Bush-stone Curlew (Burhinus grallarius) are very shy birds and can be seen at Federation Walk Coastal Reserve (Nicolas Rakotopare)

REPTILES: Reptiles, such as snakes, lizards and turtles, are commonly found within the Gold Coast’s dunes. Those you may encounter include Blue-tongue lizards, Bearded-dragons, Common Tree Snake, Carpet Python, Whipsnakes, and Eastern Brown Snake.

Crested Tern (Thalasseus sp.) are a migratory bird that visit Australia and use tropical and sub-tropical coastlines for nesting (Nicolas Rakotopare)

Turtles also use the beach environment, which is critical for their nesting stage. Both the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) and the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) breed over the summer on the beaches of South Stradbroke Island.

MAMMALS: With urban sprawl occurring on the mainland, South Stradbroke Island is a key coastal habitat for many native mammals. Low-lying areas of understory coastal grasses are important foraging habitats and are an ideal home for Macropods (e.g. wallabies). The mature hollow-bearing trees are integral for arboreal mammal assemblages (such as possums). Mammals found on the Gold Coast dunes include: • • • • •

Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolour bicolour and W. b. welsbii) Pretty faced Wallaby/ Whiptail Wallaby (Macropus parryi) Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) Possums Bats

Bearded-dragons can be seen sunning on the hot sand during summer (Nicolas Rakotopare)

Agile Wallaby can be seen at South Stradbroke Island (Nicolas Rakotopare)


A Ghost Crab camouflaged against the white sand (Nicolas Rakotopare)

MACROFAUNA: The sand on our beaches is teeming with life. Macrofauna are critters larger than one millimetre that live in or on sediment. The most common critters to be found on Gold Coast’s dunes are Ghost Crabs (Crustaceans). Within the swash zone, critters such as Pippies (Molluscs), Worms (Nematodes and Polychaetes) and Amphipods (also called Beach Fleas) are commonly found. These critters play an important role in the ecology of the coastal environment being a very important food source for a variety of bird and fish species.

INSECTS: There are many insects that are found on dunes. For example, the Hibiscus Harlequin Bug which are usually found on the leaves of Cottonwoods. Also known as Stink Bugs or Jewel Bugs, they suck on sap and guard their eggs amongst twigs until they hatch.

Hibiscus Harlequin Bugs on a Cottonwood leaf (Nicolas Rakotopare)

IMPACT TO DUNES A HEALTHY DUNE = A HEALTHY BEACH In an urbanised environment, impacts to the dunes are inevitable and unfortunately the Gold Coast is no exception. In the rush to get to the beach, humans can cause on-going disturbances from foot traffic, in addition, impacts caused by event infrastructure, dune encroachment from adjacent properties, garden escapee weeds, and litter. There is a fine balance between using and enjoying the beach to ensure dunes are protected and maintained.

Good practice for events adjacent to dunes (City of Gold Coast)

Coastal dunes can also be affected by the natural environment. During storm events, large ocean swells and high wave energy often results in waves breaking onto the dune system and causing beach erosion. Sand is eroded and lost from the dune and beach system, settling offshore in the form of a storm bar. Consequently, dune escarpments (sand cliffs) result from such active wave action. This is why healthy dunes are important. A healthy dune maintains a large sand budget, which gives the dune flexibility to move in accordance with the sand store. Additionally, extensive dune vegetation maximises the dunes ability to recover from storm events, with the remaining vegetation immediately trapping wind blown sand, supporting the regrowth and revegetation of the affected dune. Without healthy dune vegetation, the dune could take much longer to recover naturally after a storm event.


MAR 2011

OCT 2011

MAY 2012


WEEDS Everyone dislikes weeds. Some weeds can go unnoticed while others have a prolific prominence. Weeds will always be a persistent issue in natural areas that border built environments. Whether weed species were deliberately introduced or are a garden escapee, it is important to be aware which plants are foes and which ones are friends.

SIRATRO (MACROPTILIUM ATROPURPUREUM) – is a creeping or climbing vine, with silky green leaves 2-7 cm long arranged in three leaflets. Being from the legume family, the pea-like flowers and are a deep red-purple colour. After flowering, narrow pods that are 5 -10 cm long are borne – all year round. PROBLEM – smoothers native vegetation and spreads vegetatively and via seeds. STATUS – environmental weed ERADICATION – best method is to remove the tap root and tangled growth by hand. A selective spray may also be used.

COBBLER’S PEG (BIDENS PILOSA) – is a herb that is often seen to grow shorter in coastal areas, in comparison to more nutrient-rich soils. Leaves are arranged in opposite pairs along the stem and are divided into 3-5 segments. Flowers are yellow or white and occur all year. It is the prolific black slender seeds, 1 cm long, that most people are aware of. The forked tip of the seed easily attaches to clothes, hairs, fur or feathers. Another common name is Farmer’s Friends as they ‘stick to you when no one else will’. PROBLEM – the efficient lifecycle makes it a persistent weed. A single plant can mature in 18 weeks, have 3-4 generations a year and can produce 30006000 seeds! STATUS – environmental weed ERADICATION – best method is to consistently remove it by hand and particularly bag the seeds or use a selective herbicide spray. Follow up control is necessary, as seeds can lay dominant for up to 5 years.

EVENING PRIMROSE (OENOTHERA AFFINIS) – is sometimes mistaken as a native species, it is a low-lying annual herb with soft-feeling, light-green coloured leaves (5-15 cm long) that are sparsely toothed. Flowers are bright yellow and the petals are 2-4 cm long. It has a prominent taproot. PROBLEM – has naturalised in many natural areas and spreads vegetatively and via seed dispersal. STATUS – environmental weed ERADICATION – can be easily removed by hand, however the area of concern is that it needs consistent maintenance for successful eradication. A selective spray maybe used.

PAINTED SPURGE (EUPHORBIA CYATHOPHORA) – is an annual herb that grows up to 70 cm. The distinguished features are painted-like red/ orange markings on the leaves arranged around an upright stem and the milky sap. Flowers are greenish in colour and seeds are about 3 mm long, brown and are somewhat wart-looking. PROBLEM – has naturalised in many natural areas and spreads via seed disperal. STATUS – environmental weed ERADICATION – can be easily removed by hand (seed heads bagged), however the area of concern is that it needs consistent maintenance for successful eradication. A selective spray maybe used.

GLORY LILY (GLORIOSA SUPERBA) – is a perennial herb with climbing stems up to 4 m long. Leaves are glossy, green and are arranged around the stem and the tips form a tendril. The flowers are the most distinguished feature and are bright yellow-orange in colour. Seed pods are an oblong shape and contain small bright orange seeds. PROBLEM –extremely toxic and produces numerous seeds and rhizomes. STATUS – environmental weed ERADICATION – can be removed by hand (bagged and disposed of appropriately) and a selective spray maybe used.



MILE-A-MINUTE OR COASTAL MORNING GLORY (IPOMOEA CAIRICA) – is a climbing vine with very distinct divided 5-7 lobed palm-like leaves and trumpet-like purple-pink flowers. As the name suggests, it is very capable of rapidly growing – along the ground, over trees and infrastructure. PROBLEM – has infested many natural areas and develops a thick-carpet. STATUS – environmental weed ERADICATION – climbing vegetation can be physically cut and left to die. The slash and paint technique is common, where a selective herbicide can be painted in the crown and roots.

City of Gold Coast

MADEIRA VINE (ANREDERA CORDIFOLIA) – is a vigorous vine with fleshy, heart-shaped leaves, 4-5 cm. Flowers are 10 cm long spikes, with numerous smaller flowers and produce thousands of small light-brown or green, potato-like tubers along the stem. PROBLEM – the thousands of seeds fall to the ground and then germinate, and climb over native vegetation. It is also very heavy on tree canopies and smaller trees may collapse. STATUS – environmental weed ERADICATION – combined approach of chemical spray and removing weeds is the best method.

City of Gold Coast

SINGAPORE DAISY (SPHAGNETICOLA TRILOBATA ) – is a very prominent weed in all natural areas, being a vigorous ground cover with lush, glossy, green leaves that grow in pairs along the stem. The daisy flowers are yellow-orange in colour and flower all year. Produces a massive amount of seed. PROBLEM – spreads rapidly, smoothers and outcompetes native vegetation STATUS – environmental weed ERADICATION – best method is to use a selective herbicide spray and if hand removal techniques are used to pull up all runners should be disposed of as waste as the plant can regrow easily. Repeat eradication methods are necessary and it is advisable to replant the area with native plants to minimise regrowth.

Siratro smothering native dune vegetation

The large taproot that needs to be removed or poisoned

ENVIRONMENTAL WEED = AN INTRODUCED SPECIES THAT POSES A SIGNIFICANT THREAT TO BIODIVERSITY, BY SMOTHERING NATIVE VEGETATION, CHANGING ECOSYSTEM DYNAMICS AND EVEN THE HYDROLOGY CYCLE. TURF Although not necessarily seen as a threat to dunes, the establishment of turf inhibits the capacity of dunes to maintain a high level of stability and act as long-term sand reserves. The mowing of other herbaceous vegetation also limits the capacity for sand to build-up and reduces the natural values of ocean front land. For enquires about environmental weeds phone the City’s Natural Areas Management Unit on 1300 MYGCCC (1300 694 222).

FERAL ANIMALS Australia is infamous for its feral animals and the coastal environment is no stranger to the impacts they pose on dune vegetation and native coastal fauna. On the Gold Coast, feral cats and low numbers of foxes have been recorded, although their overall impact is uncertain. It is best to be aware of feral animals and report any sightings to the City on 1300 MYGCCC (1300 694 222).

Painted Spurge under the canopy of the hind dune at Federation Walk Coastal Reserve



BeachCare provides technical advice and management plans for community groups and individuals, thus encouraging adaptive community-focused management for many dune areas on the Gold Coast. Part of caring for the dunes is about understanding the biological and physical aspects as well as being aware of their health status and any current or potential impacts. This underlines the need for a dune management plan, which is a technical tool needed for the provision and guidance of dune restoration and protection.


Our coastline is Crown Land, which means that it is owned by the State, though managed by the City. The City manages the coastline under the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 and is responsible for funding, constructing and managing coastal works, as well as adopting a management strategy based on the Queensland Coastal Plan under this Act. Beyond the immediate coastline, the Federal Government is responsible for any works and activities 3 nautical miles seaward of the coast and offshore islands.

CAN ANYONE DO DUNE CARE? It is important to ensure everyone involved in dune care and eager to get their hands sandy work together to achieve the best outcomes. This is why dune care activities must be only undertaken with approval from the City. The close partnership between the City and BeachCare allows many community groups and individuals the opportunity to care for Gold Coast’s dunes.

WHAT IS IN A PLAN? Several planning and policy documents have been developed to ensure the protection of our beaches and infrastructure and to support sustainable future growth and protection of vulnerable environments. The Gold Coast Planning Scheme is a planning document developed by the City in line with the Queensland Government’s Integrated Planning Act (IPA). The Scheme guides the future growth and development of the Gold Coast region and is relevant to all development within this region from house renovations to developing new subdivisions. There are several policy’s within the Planning Scheme that relate to the management of our beaches and also several other strategies adopted for the protection of new developments including: • Policy 7 – Foreshore Rock wall – design and construction (provides a guideline and standard design for the construction of an ocean front seawall, which must be certified by a registered engineer). • Policy 15 – Management of the coastal dune areas (provides a guideline for the management of the dunes and associated vegetation). • Ocean front land constraint code. • Dune restoration. • Sand excavation (it is a City requirement that all beach compatible sand excavated from construction sites within 500 m of the beach be placed back onto the beach, providing an additional source of sand for beach replenishment). • Building footing requirements (development within 75 m of the beach must consider coastal erosion scour and for certain classes of structures, such as those over two stories or multi occupancy, compliance with specific footing requirements is compulsory to ensure that buildings in proximity to an ocean beach remain structurally intact during storm events). Under the City’s Local Planning Scheme Policy 15, there are distinct guidelines and requirements for the management of dunes. All dune care works undertaken by local dune care groups must be guided by a Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) and Work Action Plan (WAP), which adhere to the City’s dune management strategy. As BeachCare aims to provide sustainable social inclusion in dune care, community involvement throughout the planning stage is essential to ensure plans reflect individual site characteristics, such as, what are the issues and why care for the coastal dunes. VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN: The sole purpose of a VMP is to assess the current health of a dune, identify impacts, and describe site characteristics, vegetation and restoration techniques. A VMP also identifies aims and objectives as well as stakeholders who may or may not have a vested interest in the area. For the benefit of dune management outcomes, it is of best-management practice that an experienced person in natural resource management conducts this process or provides technical advice. WORK ACTION PLAN: As an extension from a VMP, a WAP outlines the aims, objectives and core business planned for a specified period of time, i.e. BeachCare WAP’s are developed for a period of 12-months. It highlights project details, a brief site description, location of works for the specified period of time, weed management, revegetation techniques, species selection, threats and issues, stakeholder involvement and a monitoring, recording and implementation schedule. The WAP is more of a guidance tool with set, clear and achievable objectives. For the benefit of dune management outcomes, it is of best-management practices that an experienced person in natural resource management conducts this process or provides technical advice.


HOW TO DO DUNE CARE Once the BeachCare site has a plan it is time for dune care! Following best practices and techniques, one should soon see a newly planted native dune plants flourish into a healthy dunal system. It’s easy! A Public Liability Insurance Policy either directly under Griffith University or the Gold Coast Catchment Association covers all BeachCare groups. Each BeachCare event is started with a short induction to the site in order to comply with Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines. The BeachCare representative welcomes volunteers to the site, asks that each volunteer clearly fill out the BeachCare sign-on sheet before advising the volunteers of the potential hazards and risks of participating at BeachCare. There are manual tasks carried out during BeachCare events, which requires someone to exert force in order to grasp, manipulate, strike, throw, carry, move (lift, lower, push, pull), hold or restrain an object, or load. BeachCare outlines risks, potential injuries caused through manual handling and ways to reduce these during initial inductions. Other safety requirements, such as, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are standard reference documents for chemical information and provide working people and emergency service personnel essential information about: • Basic physical and chemical properties of the chemical • Correct safety procedures when storing, handling, transporting and disposing of the product • Health hazards and impacts on the environment • What to do in accidents and emergencies The information provided in MSDS form the basis for managing many compliance requirements regarding the storage, handling, transport and disposal of the product, as well as managing risks chemical products may impose.

WEED MANAGEMENT: Caution should be taken when undertaking weed management. Firstly, know which plant is a weed and which plant is a native (there are several useful pocket guides available to assist). Secondly, identify the best weed removal technique for the best possible outcome.

WEED REMOVAL TECHNIQUES CAN INCLUDE: Weed removal techniques can include: 1. Hand removal by using a weed fork or another appropriate tool. 2. Use of selective herbicides that are low toxic and pose no long-term residual effects, e.g. Glyphosphate products. If using chemicals always follow manufacturing description of use, OH&S techniques and ensure an accredited person is carrying out the activities.


A STEP BY STEP GUIDE STEP 1: Find a clear area or clear an area of weeds. STEP 2: Dig a hole about 30 cm deep (or the length of a spade) and place the sand next to the hole. STEP 3: Add 500 ml of prepared water crystals (or two small cups). STEP 4: Add one teaspoon of a natural selection fertiliser. STEP 5: Without disturbing the roots too much, carefully place a native dune plant in the hole; or if planting a cutting, place the majority (most of the greenery) of the plant in the hole. This can be done by curling the stem around into a circle and placing in the hole, leaving a couple of the leading leaves above the sand surface. STEP 6: Using the sand next to the hole, place all the sand back and pat the sand down to create a “well” (or depression) around the plant.


STEP 3 & 4

STEP 5 & 6

STEP 7: Water the plant and ensure the well around the plant maximises the amount of water run-off to reach the plant. STEP 8: Remember to give your plant a name so that you always remember it!


STEP 8 “Lily the Flax Lily”

HOW LONG DOES THE FERTILISER AND WATER CRYSTALS LAST? Depending on the conditions, the localised environment of the Gold Coast allows the fertiliser and water crystals to last long enough for a dune plant to establish. In most cases this is for approximately 6-months.


BEACH LITTER Beach litter and marine debris has become an alarming issue along all coastlines and for all of the world’s oceans. It is estimated that approximately 6 million tonnes of debris makes it way into the world’s oceans every year, adding to the already 18,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre currently floating in our ocean. It is important to remember what happens upstream can impact downstream, as our waterways connect to the coast and then lastly to the ocean. Around Australia’s urban coastal cities, up to 80% of marine debris is land sourced. This is a staggering statistic and unfortunate that our coast is impacted by inappropriate waste management. Therefore, understanding how to proactively help the issue provides a key solution.

WHERE TO FROM HERE? To improve the management of marine debris and the health of our waterways and coast, the recording and reporting of various litter sources and local hotspots can help identify a strategic approach. As our coastline is long and diverse, community involvement in the collection of beach litter and data plays a huge role in managing this issue.

CITY CLEANING PROGRAM To ensure Gold Coast beaches and waterways remain litter free, City Cleaning has a range of cleaning and management strategies in place. These strategies help in preventing unwanted and potentially dangerous debris and pollution from entering the environment. Cleaning strategies undertaken by the City include a litter management program involving the provision of bins in public places and litter collection, a canal and beach cleaning program, street sweepers, the installation of stormwater quality improvement devices and a free school-based education program called Wipe Out Waste. BEACH CLEANING Gold Coast’s mainland beaches are swept by beach sweepers. A beach sweeper consists of a tractor pulling a large rotating sieve. The sieve digs into the sand and picks up all medium and large pieces of rubbish while the sand falls through the holes in the sieve. Unfortunately, due to the size requirements of the sieve cigarette butts and other small items can fall through the holes (natural materials such as small pebbles and shells need to pass through the sieve holes to remain within the beach environment). It is therefore very important that cigarette butts and small items are collected and disposed of appropriately into the nearby bins at beach access points. Key beach areas (such as lifeguard patrolled beaches) are cleaned daily with the remainder cleaned on a regular basis. Approximately 31 tonnes of rubbish from our beaches is removed by the beach sweepers every week. Amazingly, this is similar to the amount cleared from the beachfront and park rubbish bins.

Marine debris man! (Nicolas Rakotopare)



Categorising beach litter for the auditing process

HOW CAN THE COMMUNITY PLAY THEIR PART? It can be overwhelming to fully comprehend the litter issue, let alone identify the best way to help. Fortunately, Tangaroa Blue Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded in 2004 helps increase community and corporate awareness about marine and environmental conservation, in particular marine debris issues. Tangaroa Blue Foundation has developed the proactive Australian Marine Debris Initiative (Marine Debris Project) that records data to better understand the issue and contribute to the national marine debris database. By using their methods to categorise and audit beach litter, conservationists, coastal and marine experts and managers will be able to gain a further insight into the issue as well as find the source and possibly make changes in the design or use of items to prevent them from making their way onto the beach and into the marine environment. BeachCare groups regularly contribute to the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (Marine Debris Project). Visit to find out more information and download the Marine Debris Project Kit.

An example of the marine debris data sheet that can be downloaded from Tangaroa Blue’Foundation’s website



BeachCare members, working under an approved VMP, are provided with the correct equipment and training on site. Equipment includes: • Plants (native tube stock and local cuttings) • Water crystals • Fertiliser • Herbicide (if qualified) • Long handled shovels • Hand weeding tools • Buckets • Watering cans • Gloves • Bags for the removal of rubbish or weeds • Sharps collection container • First aid kit • Sign on sheet • Work record sheet • Tangaroa Foundation’s data sheets Volunteers must: • Wear enclosed, hat and suncreen • Bring a water bottle


All BeachCare volunteers are advised to follow best practice for success and safety.


When working in a natural area – urban or non-urban – it is important to acknowledge all hazards to ensure the area is safe and all relevant risks have been identified and strategies established. A comprehensive occupational health and safety site induction needs to be completed by a BeachCare officer before all work begins. This can be carried out using a health and safety risk management form which is completed by a BeachCare representative on site. Remember, although you may be familiar with an area there could still be many unforeseen hazards such as slope, tripping hazards, snakes, poisonous vegetation or falling branches. All records of activities are obtained and safely stored by BeachCare. To simplify this occupational health and safety site induction process, hazards can be categorised. This will also help identify appropriate risk management solutions and required safety equipment. BeachCare can help you become familiar with risks encountered at dune care sites.

Even the underlying reason for managing a dune can be hazardous – working along erosion prone dunes can be dangerous.

Another protocol to remember is that when working on public land, public liability insurance is needed to protect individuals and groups in case of injury or damages. This can be a costly exercise for a volunteer just wanting to lend a hand. Fortunately, there are peak State and local organisations that can provide insurance, such as the Queensland Water and Land Carers and the Gold Coast Catchment Association. When volunteering, ensure you are covered under a public liability insurance agreement. For community dune care activities, please speak to BeachCare regarding your insurance options.


MONITORING AND RECORDING Every task that is undertaken is valued and this effort needs to be captured. Monitoring of your dune care activities is important and can be easily recorded by monitoring on-ground action through photo-point monitoring (in addition it is an efficient way to review the actions and help define future tasks). It also helps to visually understand how the landscape has responded to the restoration plan. Photo-point monitoring is simple to set up and includes establishing a permanent marker and from this point take regular photos to ensure the same section of the site is visible in each image.

OCT, 2010

JAN, 2011

JAN, 2012

Work record forms are another way to record on-ground restoration work and highlight follow-up actions. Using this formal process provides credibility to the work as exact details are recorded. For example, the number of plants placed in the ground, species names and the location. It is important to document all this information for management purposes. It also allows future coordinators and participants to become familiar with previous actions, the overall plan and help direct future work.

EXAMPLE OF A WORK RECORD FORM Date: Site location: No. of plants planted: Vol. of weeds removed: Species planted: Vol. of beach litter/marine debris collected: Actions carried out (provide an illustration):

Follow up actions required: No. of hours volunteered: Type of volunteers: Key interests for volunteering: Follow up questions: General comments:

Team leader: Sign:

“There is nothing more rewarding than to see a bird’s nest in a tree or bees pollinating a flower that was planted by a community member. Together, with support from the community, the connection of Gold Coast’s south to north dune corridor can be achieved. Such a corridor will lead to coastal fauna and flora movement and increase the health and biodiversity of our dunes and beaches. A healthy dune is the ultimate reward as every grain of sand is important for the sustainability of our coast.” Naomi Edwards

(Nicolas Rakotopare)


COASTAL COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM Knowledge is a powerful tool and with this, educational awareness about the importance of dunes is essential to ensure Gold Coast’s dunes are protected. Arming individuals and partners with an awareness and understanding about dunes and coastal management will increase local knowledge and stewardship for Gold Coast’s coastal zone. Investing in effective community engagement can aid in raising the profile of the need to care for Gold Coast’s dunes. In partnership with the City of Gold Coast, Griffith Centre for Coastal Management coordinates the Coastal Community Engagement Program. Established in 2001, the program seeks to enhance community understanding about Gold Coast’s coastal zone through awareness, education and community participation. This is achieved through BeachCare, CoastEd and Clean Beaches.

BEACHCARE BeachCare provides an opportunity for community members to participate in caring for their local beach. Through establishing self-sufficient dune care groups, BeachCare volunteers gain important information and resources about dunes, coastal management and the future of Gold Coast beaches and foreshores. Additionally, by promoting awareness of coastal processes and management, the program reaches out to the wider community encouraging them to engage in the decision-making processes. BeachCare aims to: • Expand the program to incorporate community groups involved in the management of all Gold Coast beaches and foreshores. • Be self-sufficient in terms of resources, to provide community groups with access to all equipment when required. • Develop the program into a leading community volunteer program, linking the north and south dunal corridor with active, community, coastal conservation.

BeachCare volunteers having fun caring for Gold Coast’s dunes

Community dune care activities are free, fun and family friendly, and include dune planting, weed removal, litter pick-ups and seed collection and propagation. BeachCare encourages everyone to come along and care for your local beaches.

BeachCare is on the dunes nearly every weekend and everyone is welcome to join the activities at the following locations: Paradise Point Runaway Bay Labrador Broadbeach Mermaid Beach North Burleigh Palm Beach Currumbin Tugun North Kirra Rainbow Bay

“Care for your local beach with BeachCare”

COASTED CoastEd is a community and school based education program providing the opportunity for the Gold Coast community and youth to learn about our precious coastal area from qualified Environmental Scientists. The CoastEd program seeks to increase the capacity of the Gold Coast community to participate in coastal decision making through raising awareness of current coastal issues. The program offers a limited number of free information sessions and activities covering a wide range of topics that relate to our local coastal environment. Sessions and activities can be booked for 30 or 60 minutes and may include activities run in conjunction with the BeachCare program such as beach clean-ups and dune plantings. CoastEd is available to schools (primary and secondary level) as well as community groups such as surf life saving clubs and scouts/girl guides. Sessions can be undertaken within your school classroom/community hall, on a Gold Coast beach or at a Griffith University lecture room (Gold Coast campus only) depending on what suits your group size, age and structure. CoastEd sessions are limited. To book your CoastEd session please contact Griffith Centre for Coastal Management on 07 5552 8506 or Please visit our website for more information at

CLEAN BEACHES Everyone loves a clean beach, which drives Keep Australia Beautiful’s Clean Beaches competition on the Gold Coast. The competition is a fun and competitive program and celebrates the heroes on our coast who are taking action and caring for a beach or foreshore through: Litter prevention initiatives Resource recovery and waste management Environmental innovation and protection Water conservation Sustainable energy management Heritage and culture preservations Young Legends Community Action and Partnerships In more recent years, the Gold Coast has been very successful having achieved State and National awards and receiving the overall cleanest beach title in Australia. Clean Beaches is a great initiative to establish partnerships, create conversations and enable clean beach action! Get involved today to ensure your beach is the cleanest.

Currumbin Beach has received many Clean Beaches awards (City of Gold Coast) 107

For more information please contact BeachCare: 07 5552 8506 I

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