THE erosion at the Inverloch surf beach represents one of the most rapid changes on the Victorian coast, and has been rated “severe to extreme” by global comparison.
And the South Gippsland Conservation Society (SGCS) says we can’t ignore it any longer.
The society’s Inverloch Coastal Resilience Project Report was released on Friday, August 2 during a private launch at Inverloch’s Surf Life Saving Club.
The report is the culmination of 12 months’ investigation and community and stakeholder consultation.
The report examines the coastline erosion at Inverloch since 2013 that far exceeds previous changes recorded and observed.
During the project report release event, SGCS Project Leader Philip Heath said: “This is the end of the beginning but certainly not the beginning of the end.”
In attendance to support the consultation were Cr Michael Whelan and Cr Les Larke alongside researcher Dr Chloe Leach of Melbourne University who is taking part in extensive research of the area through Victorian’s Coastal Monitoring Program.
The ecological, Aboriginal cultural heritage, geomorphological and economic values that are being threatened with the loss of the vegetated dunes behind the beach are highlighted in the report.
Alison Oates and Neville Rosengren spoke on the day of their specialist consultant studies commissioned for the project.
“The flora and fauna are under severe threat within the study area and the community are in strong support of taking further action to diminish these high risks,” said Alison.
The project report documents the outcomes of the survey that was administered by SGCS in conjunction with the public exhibitions held in Inverloch and Wonthaggi between March and June this year.
“The feedback in the study showed with an 81 per cent response that the beaches were the extreme importance and the attraction of the region, its natural setting is what draws visitors and residents to the area,” said Philip.
The changes that have occurred at Inverloch surf beach represent one of the most rapid changes on the Victorian coast in European historical times and are rated as severe to extreme by global comparison.
“Scientific investigations, including a Local Coastal Hazard Assessment (LCHA), are urgently required to further analyse the factors that have contributed to the changes,” said Philip, adding that feasible long-term
strategies need to be identified to manage the on-going erosion sequence.
“While we all need to keep pushing for funding of the long-anticipated LCHA, our project has identified a number of relatively low-cost measures that can be implemented over the next 12 months and which will help to build on-ground coastal resilience, as well as providing important input to the LCHA,” said Philip.
Future management actions to protect the surf beach should not only consider coastal infrastructure, but also the environmental, cultural heritage, economic and community values of the vegetated dunes that are being lost.
In addition, $3-5 million per annum of resident and tourism values are at risk from further sustained coastline impacts.
“This is no longer a freak storm requiring action, this is the norm for our coastline and we can’t ignore it any longer,” said Philip.
South Gippsland Conservation Society urges the Victorian Government and its
agencies, including the Bass Coast Shire Council, to consider the content, findings and recommendations of this project report and its supporting specialist consultant reports in future planning for the Inverloch coast, including the proposed Bass Coast Local Coastal Hazard Assessment.
The project report and its supporting consultant studies are online at www.sgcs.org.au, together with other information about the Inverloch Coastal Resilience Project.
For further information, please contact Philip Heath on 0411 430 438 or SGCS Vice President Dave Sutton on 0419 230 110.