`TARWIN Landcare Group (TLG) launched its new coastal restoration project earlier this month.

The project was launched during an information session at the Venus Bay Community Centre, followed by a walk at the Doyles Road Beach foreshore.

Thirty people registered for the event, which featured speakers from the Westernport Seagrass Partnership (WSP), South Gippsland Conservation Society (SGCS) and the Cape to Cape Resilience Project (CCRP).

Satellite monitoring images provided by the CCRP’s Dave Sutton demonstrated the urgent need for the project, which is designed to combat coastal erosion by restoring some of the mangroves that were once prolific in Anderson Inlet.

While this area of coastline has always been dynamic, the images revealed that 85ha of beach and 43 per cent of native remnant vegetation has been lost over the past 12 years.

Stone walls and other efforts to halt erosion have been unsuccessful and have actually exacerbated the problem, causing scouring and washouts in other areas.

Mangroves, in contrast, prevent erosion by reducing and absorbing wave energy before it reaches the shoreline, and trapping sediment with their complex root systems.

This in turn provides an ideal environment for other valuable plant species to become established, offering additional protection to the fragile sand dunes.

These plant communities also provide important breeding for fish, prawns, birds and small mammals such as bats and rakali (water rat) and capture more carbon than terrestrial forests.

Botanical ecologist Alison Oates was able to show participants three distinct plant communities on the beach walk, which all lay behind a protective stretch of grey mangrove (Avicennia marina). In contrast, areas which were not protected by mangroves were bare and the dunes behind were eroding.

Revegetating mangroves will not be an easy task, as the seedlings require protection from waves and storm surge as they become established.

Dr Greg Parry from the WSP shared his expertise gained over several years of mangrove restoration work at Lang Lang and Grantville, which will be invaluable to TLG’s project.

Mangroves also require ongoing protection from people and dogs.

TLG is mindful of the need for open beach space for recreation; as a result, plans to enhance and extend existing mangrove colonies rather than try to establish new stands.

The project includes installing signage at the Doyles Road Beach car park describing the importance of mangroves, and a hands-on learning program for Tarwin Lower, Meeniyan, Foster and Fish Creek Primary School students.

TLG’s coastal restoration project is supported by the state government’s Coastcare Victoria program.

For more information about the project, visit sgln.net.au or the Tarwin Landcare Facebook page.

New members are always welcome. Email tarray49@gmail.com.