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Beach dynamics and recreational access changes on an earthquake-uplifted coast

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This report responds to a request from Marlborough District Council (MDC) for information on the coastal environment, with a particular focus on supporting the development of a bylaw to address changes in recreational use patterns that have occurred since the Kaikōura earthquake. We present a selection of information from our earthquake recovery research that has a focus on understanding the impacts and ongoing processes of change. Major impacts of the natural disaster are associated with vertical uplift of the coastal environment, although ongoing erosion and deposition processes are also important. In addition, interactions with human activities are important because they can exert strong influences on the reassembly of ecosystems which is a critical aspect of outcomes over the longer-term. Earthquake uplift caused widespread mortality of many coastal habitats and species (e.g., algal assemblages) that are adapted to a relatively specific set of conditions, often associated with characteristic locations in relation to the tidal range. In uplifted areas the intertidal zone has moved seaward leading to a physical widening of many beaches. This has provided greater opportunity for off-road vehicle access to the coast and has become particularly noticeable at headlands and other natural barriers that were previously impassable at high tide. Off-road vehicles pose threats to sensitive vegetation and wildlife unless appropriately managed. Achieving this is assisted by an understanding of the specific impacts of vehicle use, which in turn requires information on the location of sensitive areas. To ensure the best outcomes for earthquake recovery there is an urgent need to assess and respond to the new spatial patterns, and to make plans to avoid conflicts where possible. In our RECOVER (Reef Ecology and Coastal Values, Earthquake Recovery) project funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) we are collecting information on important conservation values and activities. Although research is continuing, this report provides findings that include mapping of indigenous dune system remnants, recruitment of the indigenous sand-binders spinifex (Spinifex sericeus) and pīngao (Ficinia spiralis) on uplifted beaches, distribution of red katipō (Latrodectus katipo) within earthquake-affected dune systems, distribution of banded dotterel / pohowera (Charadrius bicinctus bicinctus) nesting pairs to determine important areas, and spatial overlaps with vehicle tracking measurements along the coast. Available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license
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... Additional information on three sandy beach sites that have been the subject of transect-based monitoring (Mussel Point, Long Point, and Aerial Beach south of Cape Campbell) is available in Orchard et al. (2020). ...
... These sites represent newly regenerating dunes and their position is generally seaward of any old dunes as a consequence of coastal uplift. At some locations, such as on the beach north of Long Point, the new recruit zone is over 50 m from the old dune toe (see examples in Orchard et al. 2020). Regular marram control is expected to assist native dunes to gain an upper hand in the formation of new dunes at these uplifted sites. ...
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This report contributes to a collaborative project between the Marlborough District Council (MDC) and University of Canterbury (UC) which aims to help protect and promote the recovery of native dune systems on the Marlborough coast. It is centred around the mapping of dune vegetation and identification of dune protection zones for old-growth seed sources of the native sand-binders spinifex (Spinifex sericeus) and pīngao (Ficinia spiralis). Both are key habitat-formers associated with nationally threatened dune ecosystems, and pīngao is an important weaving resource and Ngāi Tahu taonga species. The primary goal is to protect existing seed sources that are vital for natural regeneration following major disturbances such as the earthquake event. Several additional protection zones are also identified for areas where new dunes are successfully regenerating, including areas being actively restored in the Beach Aid project that is assisting new native dunes to become established where there is available space.
... These physical impacts led to widespread reassembly of ecological communities on rocky shorelines [31][32][33]. Associated social and economic effects included new landscape configurations altering access to the coast, and the closure of commercial fisheries and recreational harvesting of seaweeds and shellfish [34,35]. ...
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