Monday, July 30, 2012

The A, B, C about beach Driving

I am regularly confronted with the damage that 4x4's cause on beaches.

To the miss informed I would like to enlighten there short sightedness. There is various stages/zones on a the beach.

1) The Glassy Zone - Wet area in the wash zone of the wave action. All your little creatures resides in this area. The spray generated from driving in this area is also very corrosive on the vehicle. - No Go

2) The Intertidal Zone - It is the hard surface above the glassy zone below the Spring High Water mark. Nothing resides in this area. It is a hard compacted area from the water suction pulling away for low tide.

3) The pre-dune Area - It is the area before the dune starts above the Spring high tide mark. This is a very sensitive area and should be avoided by all motorist and pedestrians.

4) The Dune Area - This is the most sensitive area along the coast and should be avoided at all cost. No vehicles ... No Pedestrians and No Hard Surface Development.

Traditionally all beach front developments are done in this area and it destroys the natural habitat completely. It is also the are that is mined and the angle off the dunes can never be repaired by machinery. This area was formed over the past 25 000 - 60 000 years through much rain and wind erosion.  

In St Lucia Estuary (iSimangaliso Wetlands Park) the usage rights of many people developed with the deployment of Game Conservation Principals. St Lucia Town, proclaimed 1822, developed behind or rather above the Sand Dune Range. This is different from most coastal towns where the hard surface development (houses/roads/parking areas) happened on the dunes towards the high water mark. 

It is a unique symbiotic relation between man and beast where man treads lightly on the fragile ecosystem and did not destroy it like Durban or various other places along coast lines around the world.

A 1 800kg 4x4 does not imprint much more than 30mm. Most critters along the pre-dune area has a habitat deeper than 250 mm. Even nesting sea turtles place there eggs between 250 and 400 mm below the service. Not even a 30 Ton Vibrating Compactor used for road paving will disturb them. They are more prone to predators than any thing else. Sea Turtles are also guided by the silhouette of moon light against the dune range. They also uses the under side of their bodies to pick up the taste of the seeping ground water.   There fore one must be very careful never to develop or mine a dune area. It totally compromises the integrity of their natural breeding grounds.

Since South Africa has a coast line of over 4000km and is naturally only accessible to vehicles for 4 - 7% of the coastline it is hardly a factor if one consider the habitat compromised in building a International Airport or a Hard Surface dual carriage way.

To Follow: The Reasons For Beach Driving

by Petrus Viviers
www.stlucia.org.za
081 342 7371

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