A series of acts of environmental vandalism have made students more determined to help protect the coastal environment. Unfortunately, hundreds of stakes and tree guards were removed from conservation sites over summer with a Spring Creek revegetation area in Torquay almost stripped bare.
This site is home to the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Coast Guardians Program which is an ongoing program that sees year 9 students from local schools take ownership of a site, promoting environmental stewardship and connection to the coast.
Great Ocean Road Coast Education Leader Hilary Bouma said it was disappointing to see students hard work thoughtlessly trashed.
“Our year 9 students from Surf Coast Secondary College have been working tirelessly at these sites since 2011 and it’s frustrating to see their hard work undone.”
“On the plus side, the vandalism at these sites has made the student all the more determined to protect their site and the natural environment as a whole, which is really inspiring to see,” Ms Bouma said.
Throughout the year, regular coastal education sessions throughout the year where theory-based learning is integrated with participation in on-ground conservation activities. Students learn about natural resource management through hands-on learning activities, including weeding, mulching, planting, site maintenance and litter collection.
Great Ocean Road Coast Environment and Education Manager Katie Dolling said it is important to have a united community front when faced with disappointing behaviour.
“Despite these obstacles, we need to continue to raise community awareness about the ecological value of these sites and encourage everyone to take pride in the natural environment,” she said.
Surf Coast Inspector Peter Seel encourages members of the community to call 000 if they witness any unlawful behaviour or know anything about the damage.
“Recording registration numbers of motor vehicles or description of persons who may be in the area at the time will assist police follow up when reporting,” he said.
Coast Guardians is a free program Great Ocean Road Coast conducts to help increase environmental awareness while examining coastal issues and encouraging social responsibility and environmental stewardship.
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is a community based, not-for-profit organisation that manages the 37km of Crown land between Torquay and Lorne. All dollars raised through commercial operations is reinvested back into the coastal reserves, caravan parks and the community.