Students learn the valuable role of plants in dune protection

Cathy Sanderson and Year 4 PHPS students Cathy Sanderson and Year 4 PHPS students

Last week, Greening Australia employee Pip Short joined the Town of Port Hedland’s Environmental Health Technician, Cathy Sanderson to educate Year 4 students about the importance of coastal vegetation in preventing erosion of the fragile dune system.

The students from Port Hedland Primary School, learnt about the harsh conditions coastal plants face in the Pilbara and the special adaptations or “super powers” they have which enable them to survive.

Pip Short with coastal spinifex and Year 4 PHPS students Pip Short with coastal spinifex and Year 4 PHPS students

The Sutherland Street dune system is home to a number of local plant and animal species, as well as being a nesting site for Flatback Turtles.

The activity was made possible due to funding received by the council from CoastWest to undertake dune protection works along the Port Hedland beachfront. These works include the upgrade of 2.5km of fencing to protect the beach system from further erosion.

“Some of the plants, like the Bird Flower, which is the Town of Port Hedland’s floral emblem, are covered in little hairs which help them to keep moisture in. Other plants like the Beach Morning Glory can actually fold their leaves over to prevent water loss and to create shade,” said Ms Short, Greening Australia Project Officer.

Deputy Principal, Trent Collins was very happy with how the day went as it got students out of the classroom and appreciating the environment first hand. “The feedback from the parents and students was very positive. They really enjoyed the day and seeing coastal erosion in action after learning about it this term,” he said.

“I enjoyed the trip to the beach and thought the talk was fun, I really enjoyed learning about the plants and erosion,” said Caleb Nelson, Grade 4 pupil from Port Hedland Primary School.

If you are interested in finding out more about this project, or any of Greening Australia’s other programs, please contact Pip Short at  or jump onto their Facebook page “Greening Australia – Pilbara”.