The days on Phillip Island always seem longer. The light is so clear and the colours so alive. With the still days before the Christmas inundation, last weekend was also a perfect time to be down on the Island and away from the city heat.
At the Nobbies boardwalk the cascading ice plants (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum) sparkle in the sunlight and form a deep patterned cloak over the rock face. Although these ice plants are very attractive they are a coastal weed and only provide a deceptive mantel which makes reclamation of the coast with native plant species more of a challenge.
Despite Australia’s seemingly endless coastline, the authors of a major report on coastal weeds sum up the challenge quite succinctly and starkly:
Australia has a narrow terrestrial coastal fringe of 60,000 km. This fragile habitat is undergoing a ‘coastal squeeze’: on the seaward side sea levels are rising, reducing the width of beach available, and on the landward edge there is severe threat from urbanisation, disturbance from tourism and invasive species, of both plant and animal, particularly in the south and east. Intact habitat, with its unique flora and fauna, is now fragmented and increasingly rare.
Nevertheless it is heartening to know that this corner of one small island has been effectively reclaimed from urbanisation and with a real dedication returned to wildlife with an effort to minimise the impact of tourism while still teaching people about this geological and ecological gem.