Trees fronting Sailors Bay, south Sawtell, fell onto the beach after recent storms eroded dunes.
Trees fronting Sailors Bay, south Sawtell, fell onto the beach after recent storms eroded dunes. William Buckley

Tree loss alarming

EXTENSIVE erosion to the banks of Bonville Creek is cause for concern, a Sawtell man says.

William Buckley said the loss of mature banksia trees from the shores of Sailors Bay, at the southern end of Sawtell Beach, should have alarm bells ringing.

“They're silent witnesses that stand on the beach and it takes a long time to grow a banksia,” Mr Buckley said.

“When I see trees like that falling over, I know we're in trouble. Any climate sceptics should come to Sawtell and see these trees.”

Asserting that climate change is leading to increased storm and extreme weather activity, he believes the region's ‘remarkable' coastal landscapes are at risk.

A new resident, he moved to the Coffs Coast after despairing of the environmental destruction of his former West Australian landscape – particularly the wetlands.

However, a Coastal Management Authority expert is reluctant to say the damage is evidence of climate change.

“People from a scientific perspective say if the ocean temperatures increases we will see more cyclonic and storm action,” said CMA catchment co-ordinator Peter Corlis.

“You also see this when low pressure systems sit off the coast – you get a bit of swell and trees fall over – like everything it goes in phases.

“Those fallen trees in turn protect the remaining bank by dissipating the force of the water, wind and sand eroding the dunes.

“Fixing the problem is about protecting the toe of the bank – pegging the fallen trees, planting more trees in the area or other engineering solutions.”

Beach erosion is one of the topics in the Coastal Processes and Hazards Definition Study, an important document which has been commissioned by Coffs Harbour City Council.



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