THE BEACHCARE PROGRAM: COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION IN COASTAL DUNE RESTORATION
Coastal management through community involvement has significant advantages over non-participatory approaches as involving the community allows for consideration of multiple interests, resources, and skills that may expand the capacity for action and enhances local stewardship. Participation can help increase project efficiency as it avoids duplication of efforts. Collaborative strategies have been adopted in environmental management in the state of Queensland, Australia. Local governments have been responsible for integrating local instruments with state-level policies in coastal management. This paper analyses a community engagement program for the restoration of coastal environments in Gold Coast. One arm of the program is the BeachCare program, which involves volunteers from local communities in the restoration of coastal dunes. The program involved ten areas of coastal dunes on the Gold Coast. The study analyses the role of community participation in dune restoration by examining the following questions: 1) How do BeachCare volunteers engage with the restoration project? 2) Has community participation in dune restoration been consistent since the program was established in 2005? 3) What types of advantages, if any, did participation bring to the BeachCare program? Data on participants were analysed and a profile of participating volunteers was established over an eleven-year period (2005-2016). Results indicate that the number of participants increased during the period studied. The number of hours of volunteer work has also increased over the years. BeachCare volunteers have provided a number of reasons why they have chosen to volunteer including benefitting from some kind of social interaction, helping the community, and due to their concern for the environment. Attracting volunteers for environmental projects can enhance the community's ability to organise and create stable collaborative networks that will act more effectively in other situations of responding to disasters and extreme weather events.
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