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Byron Shire
August 20, 2022

‘Soft stabilisation’ works for Byron beaches

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Byron Council will undertake a major dune recovery operation at Main and Clarke’s Beach, after securing much-needed government funding for the project.

This part of the Shire’s famous coastline has experienced significant erosion and recession over the past two years.

Particularly devastating were the storms and historically high tides that occurred in December 2020, which removed the entire front face of the dune system, along with large volumes of sand, and the majority of dune vegetation.

Nine of the 14 access paths had to be closed owing to safety issues.

Last month, Council was advised that its application to the State Government’s Coastal and Estuary Grants Program was successful, subject to Council meeting the balance of funds for the project, and agreeing to the funding terms.

Sand dune ecosystems

The project aims to restore the sand dune ecosystems of Main and Clarkes Beach, using various methods, including ‘soft stabilisation’ techniques.

It is hoped this will rehabilitate and restore the dune system to its pre-storm form and function, increase sand volumes stored within the dune to re-establish the coast’s natural defence mechanism, and improve the public’s beach safety, access and amenity. 

‘The project will involve beach scraping and dune reprofiling, which involves moving small to medium quantities of sand harvested from the swash zone and lower part of the beach to the back of the beach to reinstate the incipient dune,’ Council’s Biodiversity and Sustainability Coordinator, Chloe Dowsett, said in her report on the project to Council’s Coastal and ICOLL Advisory Committee.

‘Council has undertaken beach scraping programs at New Brighton Beach on three occasions. Scraping works have been deemed a success, with the 2017 sand volumes still in situ and almost completely covered in vegetation.’

Ms Dowsett has also recommended that the dune system running the length of Clarkes and Main Beach between the Beach Byron Bay restaurant and the Surf Life Saving Club is fully fenced to discourage pedestrian access.

Revegetation plans

A Dune Revegetation Plan will be prepared with the objectives of stabilising the dune against wind erosion, controlling pedestrian access, retaining natural sand volumes, and providing habitat for flora and fauna.

Once fully fenced, the dune restoration area will be revegetated through an intensive program of planting and seeding, using cuttings of native mid-dune and frontal dune species such as goats foot, pigface, spinifex and beach bean.

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