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Don’t Destroy What You Came To Enjoy!
Bells BeachS.A.N.E Promoting awareness and understanding of coastal conservation issues. Bells Beach is unlike anywhere else in the world. It is a unique part of the Australian coastline and has a special place in surfing culture. SANE (Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment) seeks to protect and restore the reserve’s natural beauty and that of the surrounding bushland.
For thousands of years waves generated from Australias southern oceans have travelled hundreds of kilometres to break over the reefs of Bells Beach to make it one of the best surfing beaches in the world. Indeed it is the presence of nature, omnipresent as it is in the reefs, or the abundant wildlife (marine and terrestrial), as well as the rugged cliffs, species-rich heathland and unique coastal woodlands that make the beautifully diverse Bells Beach Surfing Recreational Reserve internationally significant. Unfortunately 50 years of visitors to the Bells area has taken its toll, damaging eco-systems and degrading the land base significantly. Since 1988 when SANE formed, our focus has been to reverse that destructive trend. As a result SANE has:
Re-planted indigenous species
Removed introduced plants / weeds
Assisted with fencing and track management and design
Held regular monthly working bees on the second Sunday of each month starting at 10am!
Initiated interpretation projects to inform and encourage positive behaviour from people using the reserve
Active in an advocacy role with community, local, state and federal government. We are proud to say for example that SANE was officially recognised by State Government for our work in lobbying for the introduction of the Point Addis Marine National Park
SANE believes that at no other time in history has the need to understand the marine environment been more urgent. SANE supports the establishment of a comprehensive network of Marine Parks, specifically at Pt. Addis. Marine Parks are part of the world wide push for sustainable development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future. Although SANE is primarily a surfer’s organisation, we welcome and encourage all people who share similar aims to join us. So rather than watching nature docos on TV, why not join SANE and do something positive for your environment. Your energy and ideas will be appreciated…
Q1. I was wondering if you could tell me some background information on SANE?
SANE was formed by Charles Bartlett (Charles of the Sea) in 1988 who was alarmed at the perceived mismanagement of the Bells Beach Surfing Recreational Reserve by the then Barrabool Shire. Their heavy-handed approach to provide access for people and car traffic caused a great deal of unnecessary damage to the natural environment. At about the same time, the 13th Beach Ocean Outfall (Sewerage Treatment Plant) was being constructed and SANEs leadership through the local papers and in the community ensured the Plant was upgraded from primary to secondary treatment of sewerage.
Since then we have focused primarily on restoring the Bells Beach Recreational Surfing Reserve to its more natural state. Readers might not appreciate that large sections of the Reserve had become significantly modified over time and that a large number of serious environmental weeds were invading and replacing the indigenous coastal heath and woodland. SANE has been working to restore the balance now for some 27 years. The bottom line is that restoration and careful stewardship is by necessity a long and slow process (eg. weeding, planting, planning, etc) Degradation and damage on the other hand, can be fast and very destructive (eg. trampling and illegal driving of vehicles over vegetation- or worse still, heavy machinery).
Q2. The views you hold by SANE about natural environments?
Natural Environments are disappearing locally, nationally and internationally at a level not before seen by the entire history of humanity. Unfortunately we have a biodiversity crisis on our hands. You might want to look at the following website: www.mysterium.com/extinction
Q3. What are the main issues that SANE attempt to resolve and develop?
The human race co-habits earth with an enormous array of non-human life forms (plants, insects, animals, marine and terrestrial) etc. We have an obligation to manage ourselves so that they have a chance to live successful reproductive lives also. In relation to the Bells Beach Reserve, we all use it as an area of recreation. However, for a whole host of non-human life forms it is home, their food base, or as part of their critical area of habitat (marine and terrestrial!). SANE’s objective therefore is to inform people about nature at Bells Beach and to encourage a more respectful attitude.
Q4. How do you believe that SANE has helped to change humans relationships with the environment?
Without doubt, our success is due to a long term involvement in restoring natures rightful place within the Reserve. This has allowed us to build a good working relationship with land management agencies (eg. Surf Coast Shire, Parks Victoria) and other key stake holders (eg. Rip Curl). Over the time we have been involved the ecological integrity within the Reserve has increased significantly. For everyone who visits it is a much more enjoyable experience in comparison to how it was (ie. the degradation trajectory it was on before we formed).
Q5. Whats the current project that youre working on?
A three-part animation series that informs people about other non-surf related values associated with Bells Beach. Animation story number one will inform people of the Wathaurung peoples connection to Bells Beach and surrounding area. Story two will focus on how local community can influence ecological outcomes in a positive way as well as informing people about the threat of environmental weeds. And animation story three will be about the diversity of life in the marine environment at Bells as well as the threats and the importance of the Point Addis Marine National Park. All stories will be accessible by iPhone technology using QR codes within the Reserve. There will also be a web-based platform on the SANE and Surfcoast Shires webpages. (sourced from website 6/11/2021)