Getting Organised for Beach Keeping
Inform and invite other groups right from the start!
Your project can help rescue one of our most precious and special
resources - our beaches. To be a real success, it needs to involve
many different segments of your community. Experience in other
areas has shown that if you let others know about your plans to
improve the beaches, and invite them to participate, you'll have
a greater chance of truly making a difference.
Beach problems, especially littering and pollution, often come
from sources far away from the beach itself so they can't be solved
without involving people from a wider area. You can either start
with a strong council leadership seeking local volunteers or you
might begin with a grass roots local group that seeks government
and public support. Local groups are essential to taking care
of the beaches as they live close to the beach and can see changes
on a daily basis. They can conduct surveys and observe unpredictable
events that may help identify and correct problems.
The best approach is a team effort where everyone can benefit
from the shared experience and resources of a wide range of interested
people and organisations.
- Hold a public meeting and invite the environmental
officers or representatives from City, District, and Regional
council, the local Fisheries office, the Department of Conservation,
the Ministry for the Environment, and local Iwi. Students can
help prepare and send letters to these organisations.
- Invite local groups. Conservation clubs, like Forest
and Bird, and youth groups like the sea scouts, and girl guides.
Invite Church groups and community business groups like the Rotary
or Lions Club or businesses that depend on the beach for their
customers. Not everyone will want to participate, but people will
be more likely to take your scientific work more seriously if
they are informed and included at the very start.
- Find key people. What you are actually seeking are
the few people in every community who have the interest and are
willing to donate time and resources to caring for the environment.
When you find them, they will be invaluable in helping get things
organised and keeping the project a fun social activity. It is
not set up to be an "opposition" group to fight for
the rights of the environment. It is a support group to strengthen
community involvement in a lifestyle that enhances our living
- Setting your Goals. Include, on your agenda for the
public meeting, such questions as "Which beach shall we study?"
"What are people's major concerns about the use of the beach?"
What has already been done in your area on mapping, photographing,
or studying the beaches and coastlines?" "What are the
community goals for the beaches?" These goals should be stated
in a quantitative way, if possible. "What will we call our
organisation?" "When and how often shall we do our census
activities and beach clean-ups?" "What other activities
should we do (such as water quality measurements, beach sand movements,
replanting of dunes, water current studies).
- Keep Records and produce Reports. Have students act
as reporters for the meeting and jointly write a report on the
findings. They might ask biologists or other professionals that
attend the meeting to send any relevant papers, aerial photographs,
or other helpful materials to include in the report. This report
will set the stage for the entire research programme. Throughout
the programme publish a regular newsletter and special reports.
Keep the local media involved with interesting stories. Take plenty
of pictures, put up posters in the local shopping centre, make
beach signs and a public outdoor information display of your scientific
project and its results.
- Organise activities. In addition to your major scientific
projects, your organisation should also host information days,
beach walks (with biologists), Beach Care Awards, displays at
local shopping centres and shows, membership drives.
- Link up with other groups. Stay informed of what other
beach care groups are up to and include this information in your
own newsletter and media articles. Trade ideas and support openly
and enthusiastically. Help train each other, share speakers, organise
- Learn from the successes (and failures) of others. Students
could research the history of another community improvement group
established to improve some environmental condition. They present
a report evaluating the impact of the activities of the group.