Extensive replanting of native species alongside Ōpōtiki's Dunes Trail has changed the landscape and provided view windows to the spectacular section of coastline.

In the past five years more than 15,000 plants and trees have been dug into areas alongside the trail.

Jim Robinson from the Motu Trails Charitable Trust described the environment as rugged and said plants were slow to grow.

"But the change is now very easy to see," Robinson said.

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Planting and weed control is guided by a biodiversity management plan, developed in 2014. Dunes planting dates back well before that, but the biodiversity management plan focused planting efforts.

"The plan identified a works programme, goals, monitoring and a financial commitment over a five-year term. There is great potential for slowly restoring the vegetation and to promote the area as a restored ecosystem".

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Land Management Officer Tim Senior said the planting would never have happened so successfully without an agreement that set out goals and commitments.

"Each year, community planting days have seen extensive replanting of native species.
Usually about 25 volunteers have helped each session," Senior said.

Regional Council leads project management and costs are shared with Ōpōtiki District Council and the Department of Conservation. Motu Trails Charitable Trust leads promotion and helps to co-ordinate planting efforts.

"While mainly local volunteers bed in many of the plants and trees, in 2016 to 2018, Auckland branch of volunteer group Shah Satnam Ji Green S Welfare Force Wing also came down to help — a real boost to the Dunes Trail restoration," Robinson said. "Others have come from Whakatāne, Rotorua, Motu and Gisborne.

"Overall, Dunes Trail plantings have had an excellent success rate and in a few places the Dunes Trail now has young trees reaching well overhead.

"View windows are always considered in plant selection, so in some areas flaxes are the key species."

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The Tirohanga Beach section by the trail was planted largely with spinifex in 2014, complementing earlier planting by Opotiki College Special Needs Unit and others.

This winter's community planting day will be on Sunday, August 4.