Passionate pair rehabilitate dunes in front of home

2014-01-21 00:00

FOR many residents who own homes on the coastal shoreline, the degeneration of dunes is a major concern. In South Africa, formal dune rehabilitation programmes do exist, but not like the significant ones being run in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S., for instance.

It is for this reason that Jan and Zeele Pauw started maintaining and rehabilitating the dunes in front of their house in Ellcock Road, Winkelspruit, about three years ago.

Dunes provide habitat for highly specialised plants and animals, including rare and endangered species, they said, but are threatened by human activity, both intentional and unintentional.

“Stabilising the dunes involves multiple actions. Firstly, planting vegetation reduces the degenerating impact of wind and water. Wooden fences can help retain sand and other material needed for a healthy sand dune ecosystem and lastly building footpaths protects the dunes from damage from foot traffic,” said Zeele, explaining their work briefly.

According to Jan, sand dunes are an important part of the coast, as they are land’s first defence against the forces of the ocean.

The passionate duo inspired and got their neighbours involved as well.

“If we don’t do it, who will?” Jan asks.

Looking back on their hard work over the three years, they are pleased with the results.

“It is hard work and very costly. We employ a team of eight guys from time to time to assist. We have removed many bakkie loads of alien vegetation and try to educate people as far as we go, as coastal dunes are very sensitive to human activities. Especially the holi­day makers are sometimes ignorant, but understand when we explain to them what we do and what we aim to achieve,” Zeele says.

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