Illegal behaviour on coastal reserves such as lighting fires, littering and destroying vegetation is impacting the environment and sparking safety concerns, with the Jan Juc clifftops a particular problem zone.
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coastal Reserves Manager Rod Goring said some individuals are breaching local laws – particularly those relating to camping, litter and fire – impacting both the environment and the community’s ability to enjoy the coast.
“These action are damaging local clifftop habitats that GORCC and dedicated local volunteers such as Jan Juc Coast Action have worked so hard to re-establish,”
“Disappointingly, a number of Moonah trees had been cut down and used to fuel campfires, degrading and denuding sensitive areas,” he said.
Moonahs are particularly precious, with Coastal Moonah Woodlands listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.
Each year the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) receives multiple reports of illegal activities, with staff regularly discovering evidence of poor behaviour on the coast, particularly during peak season.
Tents, couches, chairs, hammocks, barbeques and empty bottles and cans are just some of the items being found in impacted areas.
“This kind of behaviour, which appears to be increasing, leads to severe environmental damage and poses safety risks, particularly when the consumption of alcohol is involved.
“GORCC works to educate the community and encourage safe behaviour such as avoiding the bases or edges of cliffs, however, we are concerned that people under the influence of alcohol will be impaired and less likely to heed these warnings.
“Illegal fires and fire pits are also a major concern as they can easily get out of control and difficult to contain, particularly given the dangerous fire season we are experiencing.
“Everyone deserves the right to experience and enjoy the Great Ocean Road coast and all it has to offer and a few individuals are impacting on the many,” said Mr. Goring.
While the establishment and enforcement of local laws is not within GORCC’s jurisdiction, GORCC staff conduct regular patrols in the area, collecting rubbish and dismantling illegal camp sites.
Surf Coast Shire local laws officers and the police can issue on-the-spot fines to people illegally entering fenced off locations and penalties apply for littering and illegal fires.
“GORCC looks to support and work with the Police and the Surf Coast Shire to address these issues wherever possible,” said Mr. Goring.
GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale said it was imperative that locals and beachgoers report any illegal activities to the authorities, helping to deter future habitat destruction.
“We also encourage everyone to obey signs and respect fencing along the foreshore in order to protect both the environment and users,” she said.
If you notice illegal activities on Crown land reserves along the Surf Coast such as fires, rubbish dumping and/ or alcohol consumption, contact the Torquay Police on 5264 3400 or the Surf Coast Shire during business hours on 5261 0600.