Drawing a Line in the Sand (Dunes)
A campaign to stop a concrete pedestrian/cycle path being constructed on The Spit dunal system in Federation Walk Coastal Reserve, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
The Save Our Spit Alliance (SOSA) Inc. is a volunteer, not-for-profit community alliance of Gold Coast residents, visitors, recreational users and passive tourism operators committed to the protection, conservation and preservation of the Gold Coast Spit, Broadwater, South Stradbroke Island and their parks, foreshores, beaches, islands and waterways as public open space, both now and for future generations.
SOSA first formed after community meetings held by the Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council (Gecko) in 2003-2004 to fight against the then State Government's proposed cruise ship port and terminal (CST) in the Southport Seaway and commercial high-rise developments on Doug Jennings Park on public open space on the northern Spit.
SOSA won a National Surfrider award in 2005 for our campaign to stop the cruise ship proposal which was successful in 2006 when the Queensland Government abandoned its proposal for a cruise ship port and terminal on the Gold Coast. Spit. Since this time, SOSA has continued to fight battles both big (more CST proposals; a mega foreign high-rise resort casino-city) and small (inappropriate public 'infrastructure' and private developments) on The Spit, Broadwater, Wavebreak and South Stradbroke Islands.
Since 2005, SOSA been acknowledged by environmental, tourism and business groups for its deep research and dissemination of evidence-based information to the Community in our campaigns to protect the public realms of The Spit and Broadwater and their environs from inappropriate private developments and unnecessary and ecologically destructive public infrastructure proposals.
Awards include for 'Services to the Environment' from the Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council (Gecko):
Gecko Annual Awards
2005 Silver Gecko Award
2012 Gold Tailed Gecko Award
2014 Beaded Gecko Award
2015 Jewelled Gecko Award
And awards from Business groups for Save Our Spit Campaigns:
Festival of Excellence – Gala Award Night, May 2018
2018 Northern Gold Coast Connect - Regional Excellence, Sustainable Living Award
Following 16 years of campaigning, SOSA along with other key community stakeholder groups, convinced the Palaszczuk Labor Government to initiate a community-led Spit Master Plan process during 2018-2019, resulting in the Spit Master Plan 2019 (SMP).
Some of the ambit claims by other participants involved in the SMP process that appeared in the final SMP were deemed by SOSA to be inappropriate. For instance, the City of Gold Coast (CoGC) Mayor insisted on including the option of a cruise ship port and terminal at Philip Park on The Spit or else he would withdraw the CoGC from the Spit Master Plan process.
However, SOSA trusted that the full and transparent application of existing Environmental Legislations; Ocean Strategies and Plans; and Coastal Management best-practices would eradicate such potentially destructive developments being imposed on the high conservation value areas of The Spit, especially in Philip Park and the Federation Walk Coastal Reserve (FWCR).
A Queensland Government statutory authority, the Gold Coast Waterways Authority (GCWA), is now the responsible entity for implementing the Spit Master Plan 2019.
Unfortunately, SOSA is about to engage in a campaign to stop The Spit natural dunes from being subjected to a scientifically unacceptable and potentially ecologically disastrous bureaucratic decision by the GCWA to bulldoze a 5 metre-wide easement, up to 2 kilometres long on the primary dune (foredune) ridgeline within Federation Walk Coastal Reserve along the dune system,in order to lay a concrete pedestrian-cyclist path.
This proposed shared pedestrian-cyclist concrete path was euphemistically named the 'Oceanway' in the early 2000s when the then Gold Coast City Council determined that they desired an ocean viewing path the entire length of the Gold Coast coastline from the Southport Seaway to Coolangatta, despite not having conducted any environmental impact, engineering or best-practice coastal management studies when they drew their theoretical line on a map.
The concrete 'Oceanway' has since been constructed along stretches of the City of Gold Coast's urban beaches, often generating conflict and controversy between beachside residents, environment and community groups and cycle lobbyists. The Oceanway proposal has previously resulted in court action against the CoGC by residents in the Northcliffe area of Surfers Paradise and at the time of writing, a new case by the same complainants is about to proceed to court over the perceived damage an Oceanway may cause to the beach backshore and what remains of the foredunes at Northcliffe Beach.
The proposed extension of the Oceanway concrete path from Philip Park on The Spit (where it currently ends and joins the existing environmentally sustainable Federation Walk path) is the first time proponents of the Oceanway have begun to push for the concrete path to continue through Federation Walk Coastal Reserve. FCWR is listed by the CoGC as being a 'high value conservation area' and gazetted in the State of Queensland as Park for Environment, Beach Protection and Coastal Management Purposes.
On these grounds and the evidence presented below, the Save Our Spit Alliance Inc. is mounting a public campaign and if necessary a legal campaign, to halt the GCWA from pushing the Oceanway proposal through Federation Walk Coastal Reserve.
Photo 1: Supplied by Dr Steve Gration. The Spit dunes, the last remaining dune system in a natural setting on the Gold Coast mainland.
Dunes - Nature's Way of Defending the Coast
In 2018, SOSA president, Dr Steve Gration, was commissioned to write a technical article on the role sand dunes play in defending our coast and the negative impacts human behaviour and decisions often make in relation to dune systems. The article, Dunes - Nature's Way of Defending the Coast was produced for the highly regarded Marine Discovery Centre, Adelaide, S.A.and exposes the disastrous effects hard and permanent public infrastructure, private developments and human activities can have on natural dune systems along Australia's coastline:
Coastal sand dunes are nature's way of protecting the beaches from erosion. Coastal dunes provide a buffer zone between marine and land environments. They absorb and decrease wave energy and reduce storm damage to our coastline.
Dunes stop the inland flow of seawater but they erode without vegetation cover.
Dune structures support a wide variety of bird, reptile and invertebrate species.
Coastal sand dunes are extremely sensitive to disturbances. They suffer severe damage from pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
When beach sand is washed away by storms, wind or wave movement, it is normally replaced by sand stored in the dune. Human activities can severely reduce this store of dune sand.
Human-induced changes to dune systems and degraded dune vegetation can significantly limit the protection provided to development from coastal hazards, cause wind erosion problems and adversely impact on neighbouring landforms.
Vegetation is important to form and stabilise coastal sand dunes. Vegetation on the beach and dunes tends to occur in zones, according to the degree of exposure to harsh coastal conditions. Closest to the sea is the pioneer zone, extending landward from the debris line at the top of the beach is an area called the foredune or frontal dune.
Coastal Management Plan p. 8, Dpt. Environment & Heritage Protection, Qld Government, 2013
In the context of this knowledge of the multiple functions that dunes play in Coastal Processes, Coastal Management, Coastal Conservation and Beach Protection, The Gold Coast Waterways Authority's 'Spit Master Plan Implementation Team' in a recent online survey has listed as a priority, its intention to construct and lay an 'Oceanway' 3.5 metre-wide concrete path (of the type previously only seen on urban beaches along the heavily developed and private residential beachside suburbs of the City ofGold Coast) in a north-south orientation on the foredunes of the Federation Walk Coastal Reserve.
Fig 1: courtesy of Spit Master Plan 2019*
*Proposed concrete 'Oceanway' path, running north-south of the blue dot on the primary (foredunes) dune ridgeline and right through protected wildlife habitat and fauna nesting, roosting and foraging sites and mature vegetation communities.
*Existing Federation Walk crushed-granite path, running north-south of the orange dot and aligned to the west (inland) of primary (foredunes) dunes and interdunes and on the western edges of the existing littoral forest woodlands and recent littoral rainforest plantings.
The bulldozing of the minimum 5 metre-wide easement for a concrete path will require the permanent removal of thousands of mature coastal trees and established dunal vegetation in the littoral woodlands that currently exist in the southern FWCR with one consequence being the destabilising of the dunal system.
Southern Terrestrial Community (Littoral woodland) – general condition March 2018:
- The littoral woodland is healthier and shows a more mature and complex composition than the vegetation in the northern portion of The Spit. This is largely due to the efforts of CoGC and the Friends of Federation Walk in planting and restoration (weed control and maintenance) of the area.
- The vegetation has been irrigated with recycled water. The recycled water is predominantly used to establish plants.
The listed MNES threatened ecological community:
Casuarina glauca were observed within Federation Walk during site inspections to inform this background report. This species was also observed to be commonly occurring amongst grassland and a dominating species within localised hollows during a field survey undertaken in April 2017 by BAAM Ecological Consultants.
The Spit Master Plan - Background Study – Environment and Ecology. John Gaskell Planning Consultants, July 2018.
The existing Oceanway paths constructed south of The Spit along heavily urbanised Gold Coast beachfronts that are home to large numbers of private homes and residential apartment blocks (i.e. the foredunes dunes and interdunes no longer exist in full or at all, owing to public infrastructure and private developments), remain highly contentious with strong arguments for and against the path's presence on ocean beachfronts in an epoch of climate change, ocean rise and increases in the number and intensity of severe weather events.
However, there is no merit in undermining the natural dune system by destroying its vegetation and impeding/obstructing its natural functions within Federation Walk Coastal Reserve (FWCR) through the construction of a concrete-surface pedestrian/cycle shared pathway and the other negative impacts it will bring as the following research reveals:
Coastal Management and Beach Protection
FWCR is the only beachside reserve on the Gold Coast gazetted under State Legislation as an area for "Park, Environment, Beach Protection and Coastal Management Purposes".
The concrete 'Oceanway' type path about to be proposed by the Gold Coast Waterways Authority's 'Spit Master Plan Implementation Team' is the antithesis of the legislated purpose of FWCR i.e. as a park to protect the environment and beach and to manage the coastline along Federation Walk Coastal Reserve.
Photo 2: Courtesy Dr Steve Gration – Main Beach (urban) A-line wall exposed and concrete 'Oceanway' path sitting precariously above it after erosion/scarping caused by moderate/large SE swell and king tides on 4 Feb. 2021.
Photo 3: Courtesy Dr Steve Gration – Federation Walk Coastal Reserve and The Spit (natural) backshore and foredunes creating the natural defence for the coastline. Photographed on the same day (4 Feb. 2021) as the Main Beach (urban) Photo2 above.
The FWCR Management Plan and the design, structure, placement and surface of the current Federation Walk pathway was accepted by 3 levels of Government 20 years ago and has since been implemented through construction of an all-access, environmentally-friendly and sustainable pathway, complemented by the planting of indigenous tree and coastal vegetation by the highly respected and environment award winning, volunteer community group, Friends of Federation Walk.
The FWCR Management Plan clearly states the following:
It is proposed that the Federation Walk should be retained as a gravelled pathway1, and that, with the exception of possibly some seating, that the environment be free of both major and minor infrastructure, and that infrastructure that is deemed necessary shall be curtailed to the entrance points of the walk.
FWCR Management Plan. Recreation. 10.1, Para 6. p.32.
1 The Federation Walk track is a surface of crushed granite, laid in a layer of 100mm over compacted sand and then the granite re-compacted to form a stable walking surface.
Photo4: Courtesy of Friends of Federation Walk. The Natural Setting of the existing "easily accessible" and CPTEB conformingcompacted, crushed graniteFederation Walk path.
The photograph above typifies the natural setting that the current 'gravel' shared pedestrian-cyclist path achieves on the Federation Walk Coastal Reserve, as opposed to the 3.5 metre-wide, hard-edged, hard surfaced, concrete pathway with little or no vegetation canopy and the vegetation-free verges of the 'Oceanway' pathway on the beachfronts and dunes south of Federation Walk Coastal Reserve, along the urban beach zones of the City of Gold Coast (see Photo 5 below).
Nature Based Recreation Plan 2015 – 2025
In 2015, the City of Gold Coast (CoGC) developed "a city-wide strategic framework for sustainable nature-based recreation. It is used to guide decisions regarding access, recreational use and facilities at the individual natural area reserve and cluster level".
Nature based recreation is defined as outdoor recreation activities that:
- are dependent on the natural environment
- have an appreciation of nature as a key motivational factor
- do not require substantial modification to the natural environment
- are environmentally sustainable, as determined by an ongoing environmental monitoring program
Nature Based Recreation Plan 2015 – 2025, "2. Scope". CoGC, 2015.
The above qualities perfectly describe the CoGC managed area of the Federation Walk Coastal Reserve. The FWCR is listed in the Nature Based Recreation Plan 2015-2025(NBRP) as a "key existing Nature Based Recreation Location/Trail on/through City Managed Land." (Fig. 2 p.32)
"Preserving natural values is of primary importance, as it is these values that attract people to the City's conservation reserves to participate in nature based recreation. Over 2,500 native plants and animals call the City home, and 150 of these are listed as endangered, vulnerable or near threatened. These significant environmental values need to be preserved so that the City's growing population of residents and visitors will be able to access outstanding locations for nature based recreation for generations to come." (NBRP p.38)
As a high value conservation area, FWCR needs to be protected from permanent hard infrastructure and inappropriate recreational uses such as that brought on by construction of an Oceanway-type concrete path on its foredune and interdune zones as outlined in the following NBRP 2015-2025 strategic outcome:
Strategic Initiative 3.1.A
Utilise the City's Natural Areas Reserve Classification System (Strategic Outcome 22.1 of the City's Nature Conservation Strategy) during the planning process to broadly identify high value conservation areas that are only appropriate for no or low impact recreation activities, and lower value areas that potentially could support other types of recreation. (NBRP Appendix A, p.46)
Environment and Ecology
FWCR currently supports five different vegetation communities including Acacia sophorae shrubland, foredune complex, grassland, littoral forest and littoral woodland. There have been 122 different flora species recorded, 25% of which are exotic.
There is opportunity to build on the restoration efforts of the Friends of Federation Walk and CoGC to create a mosaic of vegetation communities. This could include the restoration of threatened ecological communities including the endangered coastal swamp oak, vulnerable coastal saltmarsh and the critically endangered littoral rainforest ecological community
Any changes to the current land use patterns would need to ensure the habitat for significant species is not reduced and environmental impacts are adequately managed.
The Flora and Fauna Database records indicate 39 locally significant species, 34 species with state significance status (special least concern, vulnerable or endangered) and 34 species which are listed under the EPBC (vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, or migratory).
The Spit Master Plan - Background Study – Environment and Ecology. John Gaskell Planning Consultants, July 2018.
In deep contrast to Photo 4 (above),the photo below is the one currently used by the GCWA's 'SMP Implementation Team' in their recent online survey to promote what they will attempt to do along the entire length of the foredunes on The Spit in Federation Walk Coastal Reserve.
Photo 5: From GCWA brochure and online survey (July 2021) example of the concrete 'Oceanway' path and vegetation clearance being proposed along the Spit dunes.
Sensitivity, Accessibility and Compliance
The current Federation Walk path surface (compacted crushed granite), design, topography; its sensitivity to the existing terrain (landward of the foredunes and interdunes); and its consequent supporting of wildlife habitat,also complements its relationship with the function of the dune system as a natural defence against long-term ocean erosion, scarping and/or inundation of The Spit coastline.
An existing swale (hollow) in FWCR has recently been discovered half-way along the path and local government funds have been dedicated to re-establishing a 35 hectare littoral rain forest in that location (see Fig 1 above).
The City of Gold Coast is undertaking one of Australia's largest ever beachfront rainforest restoration projects to establish a littoral rainforest within Federation Walk Coastal Reserve. The restoration site encompasses an area of approximately 35 hectares and the project will provide residents and visitors an enhanced nature-based experience, creating valuable green-space for the Gold Coast. To facilitate the project, the City will undertake construction of a permanent irrigation system and associated vegetation management works in the northern section of the Reserve [for an]...Endangered Ecological Community - Littoral Rainforest - that the City is aiming to reinstate at Federation Walk Coastal Reserve.
Rachel Lamaro - Natural Areas Project Officer, CoGC, email July 2021.
Fig 2: Pink areas denote existing irrigation zones east and west of the existing Federation Walk track and a new irrigation pipe preparation zone in the northern section of FWCR to the east of existing Federation Walk path (thick double yellow line) running north-south. The double yellow lines running east-west across FWCR are pedestrian and emergency vehicle access paths and like the Federation Walk track, their surfaces are a 100mm layer of crushed compacted granite over sand.
Supporters of a concrete 'Oceanway' type path through the Spit dunes falsely claim that the current Federation Walk path is not disability accessible and use this as the excuse/reason to bulldoze a wide easement and construct a second track with a concrete surface along the Spit primary dune system.
The existing Federation Walk path is in fact not only environmentally and ecologically friendly, it is also family,disabled and special needs friendly in design and compliant with "equal access specifications wherever possible" as requested under the guidelines (p. 11) of the CoGC Nature Based Recreation Plan 2015 - 2025.
The Federation Walk track alignment and surface also conforms to the requirements of the Queensland Government's Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) guidelines even though CPTED's main focus is on urban public settings and built environments not natural settings such as FWCR.
The FWCR Management Plan also takes into account the following principles in relation to the design, alignment and surface of the Federation Walk track as outlined in Guidelines for Trail Planning, Design and Management by the international org.Tourism Recreation Conservation (TRC) in conjunction with Regional Development Australia, Regional Development Victoria and Parks Victoria:
- Avoid locating trails in unstable dunal systems, or where the construction of the trail is likely to contribute to such conditions.
- Consider the ecological sensitivity of the area and the potential impact on habitat, breeding locations, animal movement patterns, etc.
- Minimise visual intrusion by keeping structures low to the ground and using materials that blend with the landscape and are durable.
- Ensure that the location of the trail will not encourage traffic onto sensitive areas.
- Provide for controlled access points to/from the beach and inland areas.
- Natural surfaces may be more appropriate in more natural contexts.
- Don't over-engineer: minimise visual intrusion by keeping structures, earthworks, vegetation clearance, trail widths, signage, etc. to a minimum.
Guidelines for Trail Planning, Design and Management. Tourism Recreation Conservation (TRC) with Regional Development Australia, Regional Development Victoria and Parks Victoria.2016. www.trctourism.com
The proposed concrete 'Oceanway' path design, alignment and construction on The Spit dunal system transgresses all of the above trail, design and management principles.
And finally, the Federation Walk path conforms to the Australian Standards International AS 2156.2 – 2001, Walking Tracks Part 2- Infrastructure Design:
This Standard specifies requirements for the structural design of walking track structures, to protect natural and cultural assets and for use as aids to recreation in outdoor areas where the environment is the focus of recreational activities.
AS 2156.2 – 2001. Standards Australia,2001 p.4
Photo 6: The Federation Walk track –'equal access ' compliant; environmentally & ecologically sustainable; family friendly and conforms to NBRP 2015-2025; CPTED guidelines; TRC Guidelines for Trail Planning, Design and Management; andAS 2156.2 – 2001Walking Tracks Part 2- Infrastructure Design.
Wildlife and Protected Species
Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPBC Act) Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) and State Environmental Significance (MSES) abound in the rich wildlife habitat and vegetation community zones east (oceanside) of the current Federation Walk path right through to the Oceanfront of FWCR. (see Appendix A: EPBC Act Protected Matters Report,23 July 2021)
Vulnerable Green and Hawksbill Turtles in addition to the endangered Loggerhead Turtle have been recorded laying and nesting (Nov – Jan) in the primary dunes of FWCR and hatching there (Jan-March). This will occur more frequently on The Spit as turtles continue to move further south with climate change and ocean warming because these species need slightly cooler ocean and air temperatures to reproduce male offspring in addition to female offspring or else risk becoming extinct with the reproduction of only female offspring.
The waters (and sandy beach nesting grounds) around South Stradbroke Island and The Spit are home to two species of vulnerable turtles (green turtle and hawksbill turtle) as well as the endangered loggerhead turtle.
The Spit Master Plan - Background Study – Environment and Ecology p.11. John Gaskell Planning Consultants, July 2018.
Fig 3: Gold Coast Bulletin, May 2018.
A concrete pathway on the primary dunes in such close proximity to turtle nesting sites with the constant human pedestrian and cycle traffic and dog-walking that would be would attracted to the area (day and night) will have a devastating negative impact on MNES protected turtles, and even the potential destruction of their nesting sites.
Photo 7: Green Turtle nest at southern end of Federation Walk Coastal Reserve in The Spit foredunes, February 2018. https://www.facebook.com/saveourspit/posts/3649676368381179
The threatened White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)is also a common sight in FWCR and they too have nesting sites in the littoral woodlands and forest between the current Federation Walk path and the oceanfront. Shorebirds and seabirds, including the Beach Stone-Curlew (Esacusmagnirostris) listed as threatened under national and international legislation,take refuge in FWCR to forage and nest and to escape the noise and activities of theme parks; vehicles; humans and domestic pets such as dogs.
There are other issues also associated with urban type concrete paths in relation to the human pressure to install artificial lighting that accompany paths such as the Oceanway in urban environments and the likely negative impacts artificial lighting will have on wildlife on The Spit if it were installed.
We won't go into detail here other than offer the following brief scientific explanations regarding the potential effects of artificial lighting on wildlife in natural locations:
...if native species depend on an attractant , whether it is natural or human made, the impact on these native species would need to be assessed against the benefits of discouraging exotic animals.
Developments that require artificial lighting in close proximity to natural areas [can] attract fauna with potentially adverse outcomes.
Natural lighting at night is important for many species because it influences their foraging success, reproduction, predator avoidance, navigation and circadian rhythm...so it is logical to consider artificial lighting can influence these aspects. (p.136)
Reducing the Impacts of Development on Wildlife. Gleeson J. & Glesson D. CSIRO Publishing 2012.)
John Gaskell Planning Consultants identified the following 'opportunities for improving terrestrial ecology' in Federation Walk Coastal Reserve in their The Spit Master Plan - Background Study – Environment and Ecology, p. 39:
- Transitioning the existing pockets of Casuarina glauca into a recognised coastal swamp oak community thus supporting this endangered vegetation community and providing additional food sources for the Glossy Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami), a threatened (vulnerable) species under State Government legislation.
- Enhance and preserve the natural assets of the area with continued restoration efforts to support a diverse mosaic/transition of vegetation communities and species diversity
- Utilise treated wastewater (from existing recycled water pipeline) to improve the health and condition of terrestrial vegetation. This has occurred in the southern portion of Federation Walk, with visible success.
Other issues with the GCWA SMP Implementation Team's proposed concrete path relate to the erosion, gullying and other negative outcomes associated with rainfall run-off from a continuous 2 km long concrete path, high on the primary dune ridge. This rainfall would otherwise be absorbed through the sand and seep into the leeward swales to support a variety of dunal vegetation, ecological systems, wildlife habitat (including frog species) and the formation of wetlands.
Swales, depressions, and very low flats in maritime dunes support a variety of saturated to seasonally flooded herbaceous and shrub-dominated wetlands and ponds in which rainwater and groundwater quickly dilutes infrequent salt-water inputs.
Additionally, concrete is a known heat emitter and during the hottest months on the Gold Coast will have a detrimental effect on wildlife, vegetation and even human health and safety if permitted to be constructed within FCWR.
In his 2015 PhD thesis, examining all aspects and arguments regarding the urban beach 'Oceanway' path on the Gold Coast, Nigel Cartlidge refers to the conclusions of the 'Delphi' group, a collective of coastal management, urban design and engineering experts formed to analyse the impacts and benefits of urban beach design and governance and their impacts on Gold Coast beaches and communities:
The Delphi group was unanimously in favour of adapting planning and development regulation and control to allow a planned retreat and reduction of development from the ocean to create a beachfront buffer zone that would both conserve natural ecologies and protect development.
Lines in the Sand: Urban Design Attributes, Characteristics and Values of Selected Gold Coast Beach Precincts. Cartlidge N., Bond Uni, 2015.
Given there are no private developments to protect in Federation Walk Coastal Reserve, the primary gazetted purpose for FWCR is also supported by the Delphi group; that is, to continue being "a beachfront buffer zone that would...conserve natural ecologies."
Therefore, the above desirable outcome precludes the imposition of a hard, continuous permanent structure such as a concrete path anywhere within FWCR, let alone in the dunal system.
Furthermore, the final Spit Master Plan 2019description of the need to preserve Federation Walk Coastal Reserve and defend its natural assets is confirmed in the following directions that totally contradict the GCWA 'Spit Implementation Team's' desire to impose an inappropriate concrete path within FWCR.
Particular note should be taken of the 'Intent' section and points 3.2, 3.4 and 3.5.in 'Outcomes':
Fig 3: Source - Spit Master Plan 2019 p.56, Qld Government 2019
The Spit Public Realm Guidelines that accompany the SMP 2019 also emphasise that pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure should 'integrate permeable surfaces' as already exists with the compacted, crushed granite surface of the existing Federation Walk trail:
Fig 4:Source - Spit Public Realm Guidelines p.14, Qld Government, 2020
Federation Walk, through ongoing vegetation work, is becoming a place of environmental significance, supporting a diversity of vegetation communities and a high diversity of bird species.
(The Spit Master Plan - Background Study – Environment and Ecology p.11. John Gaskell Planning Consultants, July 2018.)
The key points in the upcoming Save Our Spit Alliance campaign include:
1. SOSA opposes the construction of a formal hard-surface pathway on the oceanfront or in the foredunes or interdune systems on The Spit within Federation Walk Coastal Reserve.
2. SOSA opposes any new formal north-south pathways(hard or soft) being constructed east (oceanside) of the current alignment of the Federation Walk path.
3. SOSA opposes the concreting of any part of the current Federation Walk path.
4. SOSA supports theFederation Walk Coastal Reserve Management Plan and demands that it be respected, fully funded and fully implemented and that the gazetted purpose of FWCR is adhered to; that is, "Park for Environment, Beach Protection and Coastal Management Purposes".
The Gold Coast's last remaining sand dune system exists on The Spit and is nature's way of protecting our northern beaches from erosion. Our coastal dunes provide a buffer zone between marine and land environments. They absorb and decrease wave energy and reduce storm damage to our coastline.
The Spit landform, its dunes and native vegetation, through both natural colonisation and human assisted restoration, now contains important wildlife habitat, roosting, foraging and nesting sites and supports a high diversity of flora and fauna species, some of them threatened, vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered as defined under the EPBC Act MNES.:
There is great opportunity to build on the restoration efforts of the Friends of Federation Walk and CoGC to create a mosaic of vegetation communities. This could include the restoration of threatened ecological communities including the endangered coastal swamp oak, vulnerable coastal saltmarsh and the critically endangered littoral rainforest ecological community. This would support species diversity and provide a range of experiences and education opportunities to visitors.
The Spit Master Plan - Background Study – Environment and Ecology p.43. John Gaskell Planning Consultants, July 2018.
There are many other scientific, environmental, ecological, social and even eco and nature-tourism reasons for SOSA's rejection of the proposed concrete path on The Spit dunes, including the fact that the world-wide cement industry is the second biggest global carbon-emitter and contributor to anthropogenic climate change, just behind fossil fuels.
Researched, compiled, composed, written and edited by Dr Steven Gration, July 2021.
References and Sources
Coastal Management Plan. Dpt. Environment & Heritage Protection, Qld Government, 2013.
Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). Guidelines for Qld.Part A – essential features of safer places. Queensland Government,
Dunes – Nature's Way of Defending the Coast. Dr Steve Gration. Marine Discovery Centre, Henley Beach SA. 2022.
Endangered Ecological Community - Littoral Rainforest.Rachel Lamaro - Natural Areas Project Officer, CoGC, July 2021.
EPBC Act Protected Matters Report- The Gold Coast Spit. Australian Government, 23 July 2021.
Evidence of nesting could end terminal. Gold Coast Bulletin, May 2018.
Gold Coast Waterways Authority https://gcwa.qld.gov.au
Guidelines for Trail Planning, Design and Management. Tourism Recreation Conservation (TRC) with Regional Development Australia, Regional Development Victoria and Parks Victoria.2016.
Lines in the Sand: Urban Design Attributes, Characteristics and Values of Selected Gold Coast Beach Precincts. Cartlidge N. Bond Uni, 2015.
Matters of National Environmental Significance Significant impact guidelines 1.1 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Australian Government, Dpt of Environment, 2013.
Nature Based Recreation Plan 2015 – 2025. City of Gold Coast 2015.
Reducing the Impacts of Development on Wildlife. Gleeson J. & Glesson D. CSIRO Publishing 2012.
The Spit Public Real Guidelines. Qld Government, 2020.
The Spit Master Plan 2019. Qld Government 2019.
The Spit Master Plan Background Study - Environment and Ecology. John Gaskell Planning Consultants, July 2018.
The Federation Walk Coastal Reserve Management Plan. Arnold Wolthers & Main Beach Progress Association (fp 2000, revised 2009, latest print 2017).
Walking Tracks Part 2 - Infrastructure Design.Australian Standards International AS 2156.2 – 2001.
World Sea Turtle Day -turtle nest atsouthern end of Federation Walk Coastal Reserve, 2018.
The Atlas of Living Australia – The Spit (1km radius)