Cape Woolamai foreshore on Phillip Island has recently experienced serious and deliberate encroachment damage due to the reckless and ongoing destruction of large areas of the foreshore by a concerted group who are intent on building bike tracks and jumps through the underbrush.
Numerous areas along Cleeland Bight have been impacted, but the most recent one at the end of Bondi Avenue resulted in over 200 plants being deliberately removed and thrown aside as well as extensive digging into areas to create jumps.
This area is not only Crown land but also is impacted by having a Cultural Heritage Overlay which covers the whole of the Cleeland Bight foreshore and, as such, no removal or disturbance of soils or the construction of facilities is permitted without submitting a Cultural Heritage Management Plan and receiving approval under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.
Encroachment of Crown land is also an offence under the Crown Land reserves Act 1978.
Cape Woolamai Coast Action has been actively involved over the past 22 years in maintaining and restoring the foreshore along the Cleeland Bight coastline.
During that period, volunteers have planted thousands of native species and removed numerous invasive and problematic weeds.
The area is now also experiencing considerable cutting down of Ti-tree and pruning branches in order to facilitate access for these activities and to gain views from holiday rentals, all of which is seriously undermining the efforts of the local volunteers and is having a detrimental impact on the foreshore areas.
This deliberate damage, along with damage at other parts of Cape Woolamai, has been reported to the BCSC on a number of occasions, but apart from vague promises, no action has been forthcoming from the council.
The efforts of Phillip Island volunteer groups such as Cape Woolamai Coast Action are being thwarted by these individuals who wish to destroy the foreshore habitat for personal gain.
It is time that the BCSC and, if necessary, the state government stepped up and started to take a proactive approach to ensuring that this kind of activity is stopped before the damage becomes beyond repair.
We would also urge anyone who witnesses or notices damage being carried out to contact the shire, either by phone or via the BCSC Reporting Portal online.
Peter Dumergue, Secretary/Treasurer, Cape Woolamai Coast Action Inc.