My recent guest on Voices from the North was Laura Shaft. From growing up on the Thames Estuary, to sailing around the world, to her present work of dune reparation as Coast Care Co-ordinator with Northland Regional Council, Laura speaks with enthusiasm and clarity about her love of the sea and the coastlines here in New Zealand.
The interview can be heard here:
During the course of our discussion Laura acknowledged the huge efforts of certain members of the community in taking it upon themselves to improve sections of our coastlines. In particular master weaver Betsy Young was mentioned as a lady who’s done much to highlight the plight of the endemic coastal plant, Pingao, which not only stabilizes dunes, it is used effectively and beautifully in weaving.
And Laura mentioned the efforts of Trisha Edwards to galvanise the community and Taipa Area School to improve the present and the future of Taipa Beach. Every child at the school was given the opportunity to plant something in the ongoing project of beach restoration. I have personally seen the huge improvement at Taipa and Betsy, Laura and the fluid team of volunteers of all ages at Taipa are to be commended.
I was intrigued when Laura explained how the contour of a dune is dependent on the plant guild making it up. Dunes inhabited by natives like pingao and spinifex take on a more gradual profile than those covered in non-endemic species like kikuya. And these more gentle sloping dunes are more resistant to erosion. It makes sense. These native species have evolved over long periods to perfectly suit this coastal environment.
Laura encouraged listeners to approach her if they saw a local need to make improvements to their dunes. Sometimes solutions are as simple as the placing of a warning sign or strategically placed fencing or bollards to reduce unnecessary traffic on fragile dune-scapes.
Laura finished with an appeal to listeners to get involved during upcoming events such as the beach clean-up at Tokerau Beach on September 19, 2009 (coinciding with International Coastal Clean-up Day).
Music during the interview, as always chosen by my guest, was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits and Queen’s song, Friends will be Friends—fitting choices for the co-operative theme indicative of successful coastal restoration efforts.
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