There has been a strong recovery in the breeding of endangered coastal birds since the ban of 4x4 vehicles on beaches came into force just over a year ago.

There has been a strong recovery in the breeding of endangered coastal birds since the ban of 4x4 vehicles on beaches came into force just over a year ago.

Speaking to the this week, Cape Nature Conservation ornithologist Tony Williams said the breeding improvements were "staggeringly good".

"There has been quite a lot of opposition to the ban of off-road vehicles, but these results show the positive side of the ban,” said Williams, who, in conjunction with UCT's Avian Demography Unit, compiled a report on the impact of the 4x4 ban on two beaches: one near Lambert's Bay on the West Coast and the other near Struisbaai on the southern Cape coast.

CARtoday.com reported in October that certain West Coast communities were unhappy because, they said, the 4x4 beach ban was having a negative effect on their economies.

The Cape Agulhas local authority has appointed consultants to conduct environmental impact assessment studies looking at reopening the 12 km-long De Plaat beach between Arniston and Struisbaai to 4x4 vehicles.

Johan Gaybba, of Suid Punt Hengel en Bewaar, said at the time they were planning to control the access to the beach. “It takes a long time to walk the 12 km to the fishing spot and back again. We want the beach opened for recreational vehicle use,” he said.

However, Williams’ observation over the past year found that the ban enabled several shore-breeding birds, particularly the endangered Damara tern and the African black oystercatcher, to breed successfully earlier in the season than in previous years.

At Struisbaai near De Mond, which Williams described as the most sensitive stretch of beach in the country, 11 pairs of Damara terns and three pairs of oystercatchers had tried to breed along the beach in the years before the 4x4 ban.

In the first breeding season after the 4x4 ban, all 11 pairs of Damara terns successfully raised their chicks and Williams attributed the breeding success to the "massively reduced degree of off-road vehicle disturbance".

In the same area, where the breeding success of the three pairs of oystercatchers had been poor, five had established themselves during the year after the 4x4 ban and three had raised chicks by the middle of January.

"The changes observed are substantial and provide strong circumstantial evidence that the off-road vehicle disturbance had a significant negative impact on coastal birds. Since the 4x4 ban, the birds have reacted positively," added Williams.

Original article from Car