The Gerroa Environmental Protection Society (GEPS) has questioned Kiama Council over their efforts to stop vegetation poisoning at Jones Beach at Kiama Downs and find those responsible.
GEPS secretary Howard Jones said further destruction of the vegetation had occurred since the Kiama Independent reported on the vandalised section of the sand dunes in July.
“Even the coastal wattles and tea trees are now dead, presumably poisoned, where as in June it was only the banksias that had been poisoned,” he said.
“While this is a very dry season and this bushland is under stress one only has to compare this area of vegetation against similar areas to the north and south to see that this area is dead while the coastal wattles and tea trees in other areas are alive.
“The grasses under the vegetation appear to have had roundup at the bases similar to the banksias in June – although it would be hard to prove.”
Mr Jones has requested council takes a stronger stand to discourage people from clearing the vegetation and that they review the Plan of Management.
“I believe that The Jones Beach Plan of Management encourages this destruction because residents understand that once the sequence of mature vegetation is gone then council will only plant low shrubs so their views will be restored,” he said.
“The destruction of the current vegetation is becoming alarming and the unorthodox planting regime outlined in the Plan of Management will not see the appropriate zoning of vegetation restored, so the sand dunes can mitigate against beach erosion in the future.”
A large area of dune vegetation that was alive in June is now dead and this has not happened in other areas of Jones Beach, so it cannot simply be attributed to the dry weather or natural causes.Howard Jones
Director of engineering and work, Gino Belsito, has visited the site several times to investigate Mr Howard’s claims and said there was no evidence of any further sabotage.
“The Landcare group are the only people allowed to manage the existing vegetation in accordance with the approved plan of management,” he said.
“The group have been inducted and are absolutely aware of their responsibilities. Furthermore, a member of the local group is also an official representative of the Landcare organisation.
“The dunes and the activities of the working group are heavily scrutinised to ensure the dunes are not compromised. This includes observations from the local community and beach visitors but also by myself and other council staff who collect the rubbish and weed vegetation that has been removed from the dunes.
Mr Belsito agreed with Mr Howard that some vegetation has died, but said the cause remained a mystery.
“In relation to the alleged poisoning of the dunes, there is no conclusive evidence to date that supports this claim, however it was noted that a couple of trees were cut down, and that there is drone footage showing two people carrying out unauthorised work north of the surf club,” he said.
“It is reasonable that some of the dead vegetation could be as a result of the extremely long dry period, as a similar situation has been experienced with the very mature trees along the centre of the freeway between Dapto and Kembla Grange that have died without any suspected foul play.”