Our western boundary is made up of nine kilometres of spectacular coastline. It's attraction for thousands of tourists who visit our clean, sandy, picturesque beaches all year round.
Due to the natural processes of wind and waves, our coastal environment is highly-dynamic and ever changing. Our coastline, like all of Adelaide's metropolitan beaches, is extensively managed to counter the impacts that threaten to damage it.
Seagrass beds are found just out from our beaches’ low water mark and provide an important habitat and food source for marine organisms such as fish, crustaceans and microorganisms. Their root systems also play an important part in anchoring the sand and preventing erosion.
The seagrass beds along our coastline are under threat from pollution and physical disturbance, including wastewater, stormwater, shipping and recreational boating.
The responsibility for the management of our beaches is shared between Council and the State Government.
Sand is naturally moved northwards by long shore drift, and prior to European settlement, the beaches were naturally replenished from the dunes, and therefore sand movement could continue almost indefinitely. Development along our coast however, has resulted in large quantities of the sand supply either being 'locked up' or removed from the beach system, preventing natural replenishment.
As a result, natural processes and coastal storms have continually eroded beach width, and without artificial replenishment, sand will continue to erode away, exposing the underlying hard rocks and clays.
To counteract this, sand is carted from areas where it naturally builds up. In order to maintain sandy beaches, sand replenishment activities will need to continue. It is an expensive exercise, especially due to dwindling local sand sources, loss of seagrass, rising sea level, and the need to bypass sand around the harbours at Glenelg and West Beach.
We envisage that eventually, sand-pumping stations and pipelines will replace the truck carting method.
A healthy dune system has many benefits, from protecting against storm erosion to providing habitats for indigenous plants and animals, and as a source of sand for the beaches.
We are using sand-drift fencing to help restore and protect dune systems from erosion, by trapping wind-blown sand in the vicinity of the fence where natural vegetation is not sufficient to do so effectively. Such fencing does not completely prevent natural erosion however – it merely slows down the movement of our fine dune sand.
We have two significant dune areas beside our beaches: the Brighton to Seacliff dunes, and the Minda dunes at Somerton Park.
These dune systems are an important asset to the area providing protection from tide effects, and a habitat for birds, reptiles and insects. Before extensive coastal development in the 19th and 20th centuries, the dunes were an important source of food and shelter for the indigenous Kaurna Aborigines.
Since the late 1990s, Council has conducted revegetation and restoration projects with the help of local residents, primary schools, and volunteer conservation groups.
Much of our coastline has been developed and therefore considerably altered since European settlement. However, areas of significant remnant vegetation still exist in pockets along the coast.
The plant communities feature a diverse variety of plant species – most of which are highly adapted to survive in the soil and climatic conditions characteristic of our seaside environment. They are particularly tolerant to salt, wind, infertile soils and the hot, dry conditions.
Both on land and in the water, these areas of native vegetation form important habitats for wildlife, and also play an important role in stabilising marine sediments and dunes, and forming a protective buffer between the land and the sea.
We strongly encourage the use of local indigenous plants in creating water-wise gardens, as they are perfectly suited to our soil and climate; thrive without additional water; don't require fertilizers or pesticides; and provide a natural habitat for indigenous birds, fauna, insects and reptiles.
For further information please contact
our Coast and Biodiversity Project Officer on (08) 8229 9999.
A weed is any plant that grows where it is not wanted. Unfortunately, introduced species form a significant proportion of our coastal vegetation, and not only include plants that have been introduced from overseas, but also native species from other regions of Australia.
Weeds affect native plants by successfully overpowering and replacing them and, in some cases, by forming conditions that prevent indigenous species establishing around them.
Reducing the damage caused by weeds, and protecting our coastal environment and its biodiversity is a key priority for us, and our specialist teams actively control unwanted plants throughout our reserves and foreshore regions.