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Sandy beaches are important transition zones between land and sea.

They provide habitat for birds, turtles, crabs and other wildlife and their associated dunes support unique vegetation communities, which in turn help maintain the integrity of the beaches and dunes.

Sandy beaches are also increasingly popular destinations for recreation, with Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) being a preferred mode of access for many people. There is now a significant body of scientific research showing that ORVs are having major impacts on beaches on Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island (NSI) and on other sandy beaches throughout South East Queensland (SEQ) and elsewhere in Australia and overseas.

A FOSI Research Initiative

The true cost of recreational driving on beaches

An investigation of the issues surrounding the impact of off-road vehicles (ORVs) on beaches on Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island and South East Queensland.

7 reasons to think twice about recreational driving on Minjerribah's beaches

Kills and disturbs turtles nesting on our beaches

Endangered loggerhead turtles and vulnerable green turtles nest regularly on our beaches. These vehicles disturb nesting females on beaches and in dunes, crush eggs and hatchlings, and makes their journey to the sea much harder as they try to cross wheel ruts, making them much more vulnerable to predators - it takes hatchlings 3-18 times longer to get through a single wheel rut, compared to flat sand.

Crushes and disturbs nesting birds and chicks

Shorebirds like Pied oystercatchers and terns breed, feed and nest in the dunes and the sand flats. Nesting and resting birds and chicks are crushed by 4-wheel drives, and while adult birds leave their young unattended when threatened, chicks are more vulnerable to predators.

A health and safety risk

Threatens the health and safety of people within the vehicles, and those enjoying the beach (swimmers, sunbathers, walkers, birdwatchers).

Threatens heritage sites

Destroys Indigenous cultural and heritage sites that are tens of thousands of years old.

Litters and pollutes

Creates deep wheel ruts in the sand, increases litter and pollution, and is noisy.

Rips up coastal vegetation and destroys habitats

Vegetation like beach spinifex binds the sand and makes the beach and dunes more stable and less likely to erode, and provides habitat for many beach wildlife - like birds - to breed, feed and nest. When vehicles destroy vegetation, we not only lose habitat for these animals, but it weakens the ability of beaches to protect us and help us recover from big storms - which will increase with climate change.

Crushes ghost crabs on the surface and in their burrows

The number of ghost crabs on a beach open to recreational vehicles is halved - a single car driving at night on the beach can kill 13-26 crabs within just 200-300 metres. Crabs and other invertebrates are important sources of food for many coastal birds. They recycle the nutrients on beaches, keeping them healthy.

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