Western Australia Coastcare project highlights importance of managing the impacts of tourism on a popular, sensitive site
This beach area at Yallingup had become degraded through higher frequency of foot traffic and pedestrians accessing the bushland areas off the formal paths, as well as erosion and subsequent sediment run off and soil from compaction and formation of more informal tracks negatively impacting the natural environment.
The beach at Yallingup, surrounded by the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, near Margaret River, is an iconic surf location, as well as a culturally and environmentally significant area.
Increased tourism had resulted in a higher risk of coastal features becoming degraded through more frequent foot traffic and pedestrians accessing the bushland areas off the formal paths.
Erosion, compaction and the formation of more informal tracks were negatively impacting the natural environment. This resulted in fewer native plants via natural regeneration, trampling of native vegetation, reduced habitat for native fauna, introduction of weed species, increased soil erosion and reduction of biodiversity.
In late 2019, to help reduce the human impact on the natural environment, a $10,000 Coastcare grant funded by Fremantle-based brewing company, Little Creatures, was awarded to the Yallingup Land Conservation District Committee (Y.L.C.D.C.).
A large portion of the funds was used to construct a 130m gravel pathway leading visitors from the carpark around the most heavily visited features in a circular walk.
A Coastcare grant funded by Little Creatures, enabled the Yallingup Land Conservation District Committee to construct a 130m crushed limestone pathway surrounded by 650 new plantings, leading visitors from the carpark around to a lookout for viewing the surf beach, while reducing environmental risk from erosion .
To achieve the best environmental outcomes for this large-scope project, multiple site visits were arranged with environmental landscape consultants from Parks and Wildlife. The formalisation of access to the area enabled the planting out of degraded zones. This involved 1000 square metres of weed control and the planting of 650 coastal native seedlings.
To restrict access to environmentally sensitive areas, the Yallingup LCDC undertook, with volunteers, to brush those areas that needed rehabilitation and the prevention of continued foot traffic.
The willingness of the Yallingup Boardriders Association to become involved in the project enabled the Yallingup LCDC to promote the importance of maintaining this natural environment and gave ownership to those involved.
The LCDC, in conjunction with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, will be maintaining this project into the future. This will involve maintenance of the track, weed control and further plantings on a needs basis.
Overall, the project has been highly successful and supported by the local community and tourists. Interaction between government agencies and community groups, including Indigenous cultural representation, was instrumental to the project’s success.
This project has highlighted the importance of managing the impacts of tourism on a popular, sensitive site so that the natural environment remains healthy whilst enhancing the visitor experience.