Durack Institute of Technology has been working closely with the City of Greater Geraldton, Geraldton Senior College and Mission Australia over the past two years to work on the rehabilitation of the popular Back Beach coastal area in Geraldton.
The project was originally developed by Durack's Conservation and Land Management team in late 2012 with continuing funding and support through the State Government’s Coastwest initiative.
The area attracts large numbers of people on a daily basis and is highly visible from the Geraldton Surf Life Saving Club and Willcock Drive. Over time, the coastal dune habitat has been heavily degraded and suffered from an infestation of weed species.
The Rehabilitation Project aimed to greatly reduce the weed population and increase the opportunity for local native coastal species to thrive. The project has become a demonstration site to showcase to the public further promotion of rehabilitation activities throughout the City.
This special project has since become an important component of the Conservation and Land Management and Horticulture courses delivered at Durack’s Batavia Coast Maritime Institute (BCMI). With the campus being located approximately two kilometres along the coast from the Back Beach area, the project provides a valuable learning environment with real life implications for its upkeep.
Durack’s students have been the main facilitator of the project by collecting the seeds, growing the plants, performing weed control, installing erosion control matting and removing rubbish from the rehabilitation site.
Members of the general public were invited to participate in two community planting days during June 2013 with an additional corporate planting day specifically organised for Durack and the City’s staff as part of their community engagement. Since then, Geraldton Senior College students have undertaken follow up weed control, in particular to remove Ice-plant.
To monitor the project, permanent photo points have been installed and periodic inspections of the site are regularly undertaken to assist in recording progress.
The City has provided essential support by removing larger pieces of rubbish from the site including a rusted car body as well as large amounts of African Boxthorn and Agave.
The public can now view interpretive signage which has been installed along the busy footpath at Back Beach. Geraldton Senior College students designed the artwork which informs the community about the project and highlights the importance of local plant species.
The site will be used by Durack Institute of Technology and Geraldton Senior College in the long term as a best practice demonstration area focusing on coastal dune ecosystems and rehabilitation. The project will continue to provide future students with a valuable learning experience as they undertake ongoing maintenance including weed control and in-fill planting. By incorporating this project into training courses, Durack has committed to ensuring the outcomes generated by the project to date, will be maintained over the long term.
Conservation and Land Management lecturer Alice James says this project is a great collaborative effort to restore a popular area, and in doing so enhance the coastal environment.
“More work will be required to control the weeds and give the plants a chance to establish, but it has been an amazing transformation over the last year and we all look forward to seeing further improvements as a result of our intervention in the near future”, Ms James said.
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