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The dunes of Main and Clarkes Beach, Byron Bay were significantly eroded in 2020 to 2021.
In November 2022, we started a project to help speed up the recovery process. Read more about this project and outcomes below.
The beach erosion was caused by:
The erosion resulted in:
In September 2021, the sand started to return. It continues to build up although it will take many years for the dunes to recover.
In November 2022 Council, with funding from the NSW Government, started a project to help speed up the recovery process. This involved:
The project assisted in:
The project outcomes tell us beach scraping is a viable strategy for the future management of Main and Clarkes beaches. So, more beach scraping and dune restoration may be carried out.
Sand dunes are important as a buffer for waves during storms and important habitat for plants and animals.
The newly formed dunes were planted with appropriate native species and fences were put up.
New beach access paths and signage were also installed.
The purpose of this is to keep beachgoers off the dunes to allow for the long-term stabilisation of the dunes and to protect plants and animals.
A Vegetation Management Plan(PDF, 11MB) has been developed which includes follow up maintenance for 12 months. Soon after the beach scaping there were signs of new plant growth.
The scraping work has recreated the natural dune shape, improving the front face of the foredune, and creating a new 'incipient' dune.
The dip in sand between the incipient dune and the foredune is called the ‘swale’. This more natural dune formation creates a wind trap for sand to fall into during northerly winds. It also creates an environment to encourage plants to grow.
This diagram illustrates the dune structure(PDF, 251KB) and the image below shows the swale at Main Beach Byron Bay, during the beach scaping works.
Belongil and Cavvanbah beaches, are also badly affected by erosion, resulting in the exposure of coffee rock, steep dune faces and fallen trees. Council is monitoring the erosion. With more sand now moving north from Cape Byron it is expected that this will help Belongil Beach and Cavvanbah Beach rebuild naturally. Beach scraping and dune restoration work may be done in the future when sand starts to build up again.
Council has also started preparing long-term strategies to guide us and other stakeholders in the management of the coast, such as:
Chloe Dowsett, Coast, Biodiversity and Sustainability Coordinator