An exciting restoration project at Smugglers Bay, Bream Head Scenic Reserve, is progressing well thanks to a collaborative effort between the Department of Conservation, the Northland Regional Council and the Bream Head Conservation Trust.
Spinifex planting at Smugglers Bay
Recently about 300 spinifex plants were planted on a section of the beach where foredunes were absent. The placement of large logs had trapped sand in this area. Amongst the piled sand and logs, the dune plant spinifex was planted. In time, sand will continue to build and the spinifex will happily flourish; unbelievably it just loves being covered in sand.
Known as a sandbinder, spinifex is the main dune forming native plant in New Zealand. It has the extraordinary ability to send out new shoots, even when it is buried, trapping and piling sand as it grows.
By this time next year a new dynamic foredune will be formed. Foredunes are the frontline protectors of the beach. Without foredunes our beaches would be severely eroded and sand would continually drift inland.
Next year another section of the beach will be enhanced with the planting of more spinifex, says spokesperson Wendy Holland. We also hope to reintroduce pingao, another important sandbinder, back into Smugglers Bay. This beautiful golden sedge is also regarded as a toanga by Maori and is highly prized as a weaving material.
Years and years of rabbit browse have contributed to the decline of spinifex and pingao. Keeping rabbit numbers low and strategically directing foot traffic will go a long way in maintaining a healthy beach ecosystem.