A clever community-driven project to protect the shoreline at Golden Beach shoreline against erosion has weathered a massive storm and come up trumps, whilst increasing fish habitat and the presence of sand in the area.
When severe storms hit the Sunshine Coast in December 2020, the region experienced a very high tide. At the site of the completed shoreline management project, years of hard work were put to the test.
In a testament to the effort put into developing and implementing the project since 2015, the tide had little erosive impact on the site.
This article gives an insider’s look into:
- The success of the project.
- What sparked the project in the first place.
- How the learnings have led to new, innovative approaches over time.
TS Onslow Shoreline Management Project
The community-driven TS Onslow Naval Cadets Shoreline Management Project at Golden Beach was completed in 2019. One hundred metres of eroding shoreline has been stabilised with soft engineering elements of coir logs, mangroves and dune vegetation plus regular and ongoing monitoring and adaptive management.
Though relatively small in area, this collaborative project has broad implications as a trailblazer, demonstrating that complex restoration projects in the challenging coastal zone can work. It has been achieved through strong partnerships between First Nations people, local community groups, State and local government agencies and regional natural resource management (NRM) groups.
This project is an exemplary climate adaptation action. It builds resilience into the Pumicestone Passage system at the time when the Sunshine Coast is undertaking the Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy, now that sea level rise and storm tide inundation has become a reality for the area.
What sparked the project?
In the 1980s, TS Onslow Naval Cadets reformed the foreshore area of their lease. When natural processes started to erode back to the original shoreline, concrete blocks were placed along the edge in an attempt to contain this.
The blocks subsided and were over-topped by tides. Eventually more concrete was laid over the top of the blocks to help combat the resulting erosion. In 2013, the Department of Environment and Science issued a notice to remove the cement blocks, which were exacerbating the erosion and had become a risk to human safety.
Stage 1: Launched in June 2014
Healthy Land and Water was asked by community members to facilitate a community-driven project to establish an alternative natural approach to erosion control, rather than building more rock walls.
A staged long-term plan was developed to restore the shoreline using a soft engineering approach involving the use of mangroves and other native foreshore vegetation. The project aimed to re-establish a natural shoreline ecosystem and strengthen the relationships between Traditional Owners, local organisations and the community.
This stage involved researching local red mangrove sites, and seeking all necessary approvals to collect seed, propagate and plant mangroves, install coir logs and remove the cement blocks. Biodegradable coir logs made from coconut fibre were placed along the shoreline in a novel fish-scale pattern designed by Professor Norm Duke from MangroveWatch to provide a secure area for mangroves and help prevent sand movement.
Once the stabilisation works were completed by Take Action Pumicestone Passage (TAPP) members, mangroves propagated by the Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation were planted into the tidal zone.
Stage 2: Launched in August 2018
In early 2019 the Sunshine Coast was hit by Cyclone Oma and the north end of the stage 1 site suffered severe erosion. Immediate stabilisation was required to save trees from falling into the water. The banks were re-built with coir logs, and in June 2019, sand dredged from nearby was pumped onto the site. A month later in July, hardly any sand remained on the beach, proving sand nourishment alone is not always successful.
The collaborative community project brought together many partners to build resilience into this urbanised shoreline. The project has been a successful example of natural shoreline management. It also helped raise awareness of novel, inexpensive options that can help build fish habitat.
Collaborators from the T.S. Onslow Shoreline Management project recently installed a new sign at the site of the completed project at Golden Beach.
The captivating sign will help inform the local and visiting community about the significance of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetlands, and the importance of protecting and restoring the area’s mangroves.
Zach Bachels, the young artist who painstakingly created the artwork, received valuable mentorship to navigate the complex consultation required for coastal restoration projects like this one. According to his ecologist and interpretive artist Mum Kim Morland, this project has dramatically changed the course of his studies and thinking.