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Plantings restore Riversdale dunes

Kolja Schaller and his son Freddy were among 50 keen planters who made short work of putting 1600 native dune grasses in the dunes at Riversdale Beach on Saturday morning as part of Wairarapa’s Conservation Week activities. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

ALEYNA MARTINEZ
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About 50 keen planters from the Riversdale Beach Dune Care Group made short work of putting 1600 native grasses in the dunes at Riversdale Beach on Saturday morning.

Two native grass species were given to them by the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Masterton District Council.

Jim Flack, a spokesman for the Department of Conservation, said the task was about restoring the natural ecosystem.

“What’s been in the dunes for many decades is marram grass – which is an introduced species from the northern hemisphere.

“It makes really steep dunes that collapse and blow out,” Flack said.

The native grasses planted were spinifex and pingau – “it’s what you would have found at Riversdale Beach 200 years ago”, Flack said.

These grasses are preferred because “instead of putting up a right angle against the sea, it puts up something about 45 degrees and is good for erosion control and the native birds and animals that live there”.

The dune care group formed in the 1990s, Flack said.

“No one was thinking about climate change, but dunes are your natural defence against a rising sea because it is a naturally functioning system that can continuously repair itself.”

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