A blog on South Melbourne Community Chest, By Neil Blake.
Next time you need a special gift for a special someone… the South Melbourne Community Chest Op Shop at 200 Banks St, South Melbourne is heartily recommended! Your purchase will help to Reduce Reuse and Recycle… and support exciting community initiatives.
The South Melbourne Community Chest (SMCC) was launched in 1946 as an umbrella charity fund by the City of South Melbourne. Since the 1980s the core of our fund-raising activity has been the opportunity shop at 200 Bank Street and over the years the SMCC has donated almost $2 million in grants to community organisations.
In the 2022-23 grants funded a diverse range of community organisations including environmental groups, after school programs, gymnastics, meal programs, and older persons groups and clubs within the City of Port Phillip. Port Phillip EcoCentre received $4,000 for our ‘Beachkeepers’ dune profile and plants study.
The Beachkeepers project
Our local beaches and dunes are at the frontline of climate change and sea level rise. How do we retain beach amenity and protect the coastal habitats and infrastructure in the face of gradually rising sea levels?
The Beachkeepers project enabled EcoCentre to engage community volunteers to study significant dune systems on our local beaches: recording dune profiles (sand surface levels) and recording plants occurring along transects at dunes at Pickles Street and Middle Park; and conducting shoreline shell surveys at St Kilda harbour to monitor the impacts of Northern Pacific Seastars on local molluscs.
The project also enabled the Port Phillip Baykeeper to engage volunteers to trial a dune plants field guide and informed thinking on which plant species to add to help keep the beach resilient. The Middle Park dune has been the major focus for planting as it is the most vulnerable to erosion. EcoCentre received Coastcare funding for 1200 plants; and the SMCC funding enabled coordination of plantings by volunteers.
The Pickles Street dune plant surveys found well-established ‘groundcover’ plants, but a general absence of low shrubs and small native birds. These findings have prompted consideration of how to improve the dune habitat for small birds, such as Superb Blue Wrens that are long-term residents at Sandridge and Elwood beach.
Can we help bring these two populations together? Noting that Blue Wrens feed on open ground with plants no taller than themselves: which shrub species are preferred; where and how far apart to plant them to optimise habitat and retain foreshore amenity and view lines to the Bay?
We welcome you to join the volunteer teams solving this together through citizen science and hands-on coastal care — as the next planned chapter inspired through the SMCC Beachkeepers of the Dunes.