The ‘Best Coastal Restoration project award’ recognises the ‘on the ground’ achievements of a coastal restoration project, and the substantial efforts of individuals and community groups.
Karen Opie said the award is a wonderful acknowledgement. “There are lots of fantastic groups and projects around the country, so to win and be acknowledged by our peers was awesome,” she said. “Our small committee is proud of what we have achieved and are feeling pretty pleased with ourselves!”
The group have a number of projects that they do, including dune restoration by planting native trees, shrubs and grasses and protecting NZ dotterel and banded dotterel breeding sites. They look after six sites along the coast, from Port Waikato to Waikorea Beach, where they trap predators, fence nesting sites and monitor the breeding success and population changes.
The original Beachcare group formed in 1997, and planted up to 2007. Karen started protecting the New Zealand dotterel at Port Waikato in 2011 and then restarted the Beachcare group in 2013. They have been providing a safer shore line for wildlife ever since.
They are able to work on their projects thanks to help from a number of organisations, like Waikato Regional Council and the Department of Conservation. The group received an Environment Initiatives fund from WRC in 2013 which funds most of their projects. The dune restoration planting is funded through WRC’s Beachcare programme. “DOC staff support us with technical advice and support on the ground at many of our events, as well as funding a dotterel ranger over summer,” Karen added. The District Council also sponsor a skip bin for their annual clean up.
The committee are small but mighty, with seven members, but more than 100 volunteers. Karen said she enjoys Port Waikato. “We have a great community and whether it is a stunning day or a wild storm, Port Waikato is always spectacular,” she said. To get involved or find out more, find them on Facebook: Port Waikato Beachcare