5.2 Contemporary Management of Coastal Dune Ecosystems

Current Management of the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes

For many years, the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes was managed by Newcastle City Council(Southern End) and Port Stephens Council (Northern End).

Newcastle City Council still manages a small portion of the southern end of the sand dunes and have predominantly been involved in the management strategies of Dune Restoration and Stabilisation, and Dune Protection. The reason for this is that the southern end of the bight is highly susceptible to erosion due to the break wall. See the figure below.

Source: Micahel Osborne: Greens Counsellor for Newcastle City Council (2009) Stockton Beach Coastal Zone Management Study> Viewed 29th August 2009 <http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_QHaafJ9oorA/Si8vHzI5awI/AAAAAAAAAos/XfHRqFNkeMA/s1600-h/stockton.jpg>

Another aspect of Newcastle's management approach, is that much of the area NCC is responsible for is surrounded by housing. Consequently, the beach erosion is threatening the housing thus NCC focuses its management on ensuring the beach continues its function for storm protection. NCC help rebuild and stabilise the beach through the use of boulders along key points of the beach and it is looking at implementing a $31.5 million Beach Renourishment program to rebuild the beach up hopefully with assistance of the NSW state government. In terms of protection strategies, NCC also utilises strategies such as fenced off areas, walkways and general signage.

Port Stephens Council was responsible for many years of the Northern part of the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes. Under the council, the Stockton Bight Sand dunes were predominantly usedfor recreational use with a beach permit system. For a nominal fee any body with the means could use the beach and hind dune area. Consequently, the human impacts on the dune ecosystem and the Aboriginal heritage were extensive.

However, in February 2007 after long negotiations the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes became the only Ecosystem in NSW that is managed by both traditional Owners and Contemporary Managers. This type of management is called Aboriginal co-management

Since February 2007 the major management Strategy for the Stockton Sand Bight Sand Dunes is under the Worimi Conservation Lands Co- Management Agreement.

Worimi Conservation Lands Co-management Agreement

In February 2007, the New South Wales Government granted Crown lands at Stockton Bight to the Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) to be leased back to the Government as three conservation reserves collectively named Worimi Conservation Lands.

The 4200-hectare Worimi Conservation Lands are made up of three reserves:

What is a Lease-Back Agreement?

The Aboriginal co-Management of the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes has been made possible due to a lease back agreement.The National Parks and Wildlife Act and the Aboriginal Land Rights Act set up a process by which some parks can be returned to a local Aboriginal land council to hold on behalf of the Aboriginal owners. The park can then leased back to the NSW Government under mutually agreed conditions, with the lease payments to be spent on the care, control and management of the park.

A board of management cares for the park. The Aboriginal owners have a majority representation on the board, but there are also representatives of the NPWS, local government, a conservation group and adjoining landholders.

Worimi National Park

National parks are areas of land protected for their unspoiled landscapes, outstanding or representative ecosystems, native plant and animal species and places of natural or cultural significance.

In addition to their role in conservation, national parks provide opportunities for public appreciation and enjoyment, sustainable visitor use and scientific research

Worimi State Conservation Area

State conservation areas are lands reserved to protect and conserve significant or representative ecosystems, landforms, natural phenomena or places of cultural significance, while providing opportunities for sustainable visitation, enjoyment, use of buildings and research.

The principal difference between the management, objectives and principles of national parks and state conservation areas is that mineral and petroleum exploration and mining may be permitted in state conservation areas.

Regional Park

Regional parks are lands reserved to protect and conserve areas in natural or modified landscapes which are suitable for sustainable public recreation and enjoyment. They offer open spaces for cultural and recreational activities (including dog walking in some parks) which may not be permitted in national parks, state conservation areas or nature reserves.

Worimi Conservation Lands has set aside an area for Recreational Vehicle Use.

Recreational Vehicle Area.

The Worimi Conservation Lands Recreational Vehicle Area (RVA) provides increased,recreational opportunities for RV operators. The RVA retains 4 kms of beach front south of LavisLane to the 'Sygna Wreck', and now includes the high dune area south-west of the Lavis Lane entrance. There are two vehicle permits available for the Worimi Conservation Lands (WCL): a Beach Vehicle Permit (BVP) for 4WD access to Stockton Beach; and a Recreational Vehicle Area Permit (RVAP) enabling RTA conditionally registered vehicles to access the Recreational Vehicle Area of the WCL

Techniques Used by Contemporary Managers

There are two main approaches to contemporary management of Coastal Sand Dune ecosystems: Dune protection and dune restoration and stabilisation each having numerous strategies.

Dune Protection

Dune restoration can be very costly. It is much better to manage existing dunes in ways that protect them from damage. Some dune protection strategies are outlined below.

Landuse Controls


Fenced Access Ways

Board and Chain Paths

Mats and Netting


Dune Restoration and Stabilisation

The strategies used to restore and stabilise dunes include the following.

Dune Reconstruction

Sand Fences


Dealing with weeds

Various control techniques are available for treating weeds, These are usually grouped into physical. chemical and biological controls,