Band-aid management is not a solution

It is quite rare for me to put pen to paper. Being Gen Y, I’ve become completely accustomed to typing away on my Mac or thumb tapping on my iPhone. Though, when I do write it is usually on scrappy paper during a meeting at work or in transit not in reach of either my above tools I seem to rely on so much – therefore, note-to-yourself never ask me for notes. Anyway, I’ve now been scribbling in the blank corners of the new Frankie mag and my tangent hasn’t even begun…

OK, well over the last couple of months my coast – the Gold Coast – has experienced its fair share of storms. Battered beaches are now barricaded off, the media has gone berserk and the local council are now in a state of – DO SOMETHING NOW!!

Now, to vent – what I have found disappointing and slightly annoyed throughout the recent erosion events is our imbedded cultured mentality of the need to fix issues almost immediately. Meaning quick band-aid management approaches have been seen as solutions (or not) only to redistribute the issues, which has exacerbated community concerns with the next to none community engagement (with conflict being the obvious outcome). Therefore, leaving assumptions to take their own course and eroding the processes of an engaged community and integrated coastal zone management.

For example, the 7-meter erosion “scars” scarps – mmm… and so the band-aid management unfolds as the council extracts sand from sand stockpiles – cough, cough “the dunes” – and then placed in front of Surfers Paradise. The lack of engagement with the community about the series of sand extractions has fuelled untrustworthy relationships between the council and the community. Unfortunately leaving community representatives to take matters into their own hands, blast council throughout social media outlets and stand in front of excavators protesting to save what is left of the dunes. Somehow a recipe for disaster now strikes a cord along one of Australia’s most iconic coastlines.

sand extraction from the dunes along the northern beaches of Surfers Paradise

The reality is the Gold Coast coastline is a unique stretch of sandy ocean foreshore. Classified as an urban coastline, the management mentality is urbanised, highly engineered and very sophisticated (experts refer to the Gold Coast as the most managed coastline in Australia). So, this raises the point of my tangent – why are we in such a situation if the coast is so heavily managed?

Sandy coasts are fluid environments and are always changing, active, dynamic, recovering and eroding. Along the Gold Coast, it is true to say the wave environment provides a beating heart for the coastal processes at play. As the pumping forces of the coast pulses the community’s beating heart filled with passion about the protection of the beaches – and now the dunes. Thus, as we watch the beaches erode part of us erodes too – community identity, cultural elements and the makeup of a coastal society. Leaving us in a state of, what the hell is going on and bring back our beaches! Therefore, the band-aid management approaches have heightened the issues currently shaping and reshaping the protection of the coast, which have unfortunately not taken the characteristics of a coastal community into account.

Northcliffe dune - now goneCan you start to understand why band-aid management is not a solution?  Coastal management is serious stuff; it’s not just about protecting public assets in vulnerable locations by shifting sand here and there. It’s about providing protection to preserve the coastal values of the mums and dads, clubbies and surfers, fishers and dune carers, children and visitors and all those that desire to one day feel sand beneath their feet. It’s time to acknowledge the importance of holistic coastal management – from each grain of sand to the memories we cherish.

Watch this space for more tangents!

5 thoughts on “Band-aid management is not a solution

  1. Hi Naomi
    Great article. i have met you a few times during the planting down on the spit. its so hard to have faith in the councils these days with guys like T Tate wrecking the coast at every opportunity with the big fall back excuse of “economic growth”. the coast is such an amazing place and yet it gets treated with such contempt
    why can we just not leave it as it is and enjoy what we have
    Just my two cents

    • Thanks Matt! We just have to keep reminding ourselves that there are more of us than there are of them. Together we can create a sustainable future for our coast. Stay engaged and be active. Naomi xxoo

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