The solution to coastal dune erosion is simple, Greg Jenks says. So simple, many people choose to ignore it instead.
Jenks is on a mission to save the Bay's beaches, one sand dune at a time.
"They're only eroding because all the native dune plants have been removed, it's as simple as that."
Jenks said it would be possible to return the ecosystem to how it was 600 years ago if the native plants returned.
"All foredune plants around the globe are very salt-tolerant, and that's one reason why they succeed so well."
He said farmers who settled along the coast at Pāpāmoa found their stock would get sick due to a lack of minerals and they would bring them down to the beach to eat the native plants in the dunes.
The dunes eventually eroded because the replacement plants weren't salt-tolerant.
Plants like spinifex, kowhangatara, tussock and pingao were needed, he said.
Jenks said a good example of the necessity of dune restoration was at the Pāpāmoa Surf Lifesaving Club.
"They needed to move the Surf Club back inland [in 1995] because it was in danger of being eroded.
"We planted a few plants in front and then we found it was working so well, in 1996 we planted a few more."
The Surf Club recently spent $5.2 million rebuilding a building on the original footprint.
"They can do that now because they've got an extra 40m of sand ... so now it's safe from erosion. They could never have done that in 1995."
In the battle to save the dunes, Forest and Bird Tauranga will host a dune restoration field trip this Sunday. Jenks will lead the day.
Paul Greenshields, the Coast Care regional co-ordinator for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, said dunes were important because they formed a natural barrier against the ocean.
"As we know, most of our population lives along the coastline in New Zealand.
"So the more we can have a functional dune system the better protection we're going to have and the least dependency we have on man-made structures like sea-walls."
Coast Care is a partnership between communities and local and central government to protect the coastal environment, with an emphasis on dune systems.
Good dune restoration provides habitat for native flora and fauna, as well as providing a functional beach, Greenshields said.
"It's three things: habitat, infrastructure protection, and beach function."
He said in the 25 years Coast Care had been active in the community, people had definitely changed their attitudes towards the protection of the dunes, but more education was needed.
"The effects of poor dune management have been seen," he said.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council's second-generation Regional Coastal Environment Plan, which was released yesterday, outlines resource management policies for maintaining the entire Bay of Plenty coastal region.
"Development in the coastal environment may require set-back from beaches and
sand dunes to avoid significant adverse effects on natural character," it said.
"Planting associated with remediation or mitigation of effects on natural heritage should use appropriate native species, and give preference to the use of eco-sourced native plants."
The plan describes both the Mount Maunganui and Pāpāmoa beaches as "regionally significant".
What: Dune restoration at Pāpāmoa Beach
Where: Meet by the Pāpāmoa Surf Club, Pāpāmoa Domain
When: December 8, 10am
How: To book contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 657344.