Duncan Pavilion playgroup Play at the Pav turned investigators as they took part in a bugs and beasties hunt on the Castlecliff sand dunes.
Castlecliff Coast Care Group co-ordinator Graham Pearson organises school groups and other local community groups to help strengthen and care for the sand dunes on the Castlecliff beach.
Planting is well under way with 700 plants put in last winter. The plants will stabilise the dunes and provide a natural barrier between land and sea, absorb wave energy and prevent erosion, says Mr Pearson.
"In November, we had over 50 students and staff from Putiki Kura School come and help us mulch plants on the dunes," said Mr Pearson.
"It provides a great opportunity for kids to realise that there is a whole ecosystem in the dunes, not just an empty patch of sand and plants."
Coast Care received a grant of $2000 from Horizons Regional Council to be put towards purchasing plants, ensuring the group has the right tools to work efficiently. They are one of 11 successful applicants in the council's latest funding round.
"It's really good having this as a community-owned operation and community involvement," said Mr Pearson.
The organisation was hoping to be able to provide scientific information for the New Zealand Dune Restoration Trust regarding wattle, an invasive weed that choked out native plants in sand dunes, he said.
Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon is pleased to hear of the group's progress and says it is just one of many innovative projects under way throughout the region.
"By working in partnership with our communities we can achieve more and I look forward to seeing further progress from all 11 successful applicants," said Mr Gordon.
Horizons' community grants programme aims to support community groups undertaking projects that enhance the region or encourage more people to engage with the natural environment.
For more information about the Castlecliff Coast Care programme, visit the Progress Castlecliff website: www.progresscastlecliff.org.nz/coast-care.