Community eyes and ears are needed to protect the Sapphire Coast’s prized coastline from vandalism and destruction.
This is the message the Bega Valley Shire Council is trying to instill in Tura Beach residents with the placements of signs at the site of illegal clearing.
Bega Valley Shire Council vegetation management officer Jamie Dixon-Keay, one of the men who erected the sign along the walking track behind Surf Circle on Monday, said people don’t realise the damage illegal clearing of vegetation causes to the environment.
“It damages the ecological communities, it can break the corridor that native wildlife use to move and it opens the area up to wind and water erosion,” Mr Dixon-Keay said.
Council put up the sign in the area after they were tipped off by a member of the public. This is not unusual as council has seen a significant increase in the number of reports of clearing in the Tura, Merimbula and Pambula Beach areas.
Mr Dixon-Keay said every report to council is investigated but believes it is usually done to improve views and housing prices.
“We’ve installed the signs to raise awareness. To let people know that it is illegal and encourage the public to take a stand when it comes to our environment.”
The signs will remain in place until the vegetation has completely grown back which Mr Dixon-Keay could take five to 10 years. Surveillance cameras will also be installed to catch anyone either clearing or vandalisng the signs.
Penalties including fines and court appearances are all possible for people found guilty.
“We really don’t want it to get to that, but the importance of these areas can’t be under estimated,” Council’s vegetation management coordinator Lyall Bogie said.
“I understand people’s desire to improve their view, but in the long run people are jeopardising the very environment they love and live in,” Mr Bogie said.
Residents are encouraged to report any suspected vandalism and illegal clearing to council’s vegetation management team on 6499 2222.
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