The world’s top surfers have teamed up with Nature Conservation Margaret River Region and a swag of other local groups to care for the coast and protect the region’s beautiful beaches.

Ahead of the 2024 Margaret River Pro, local coastal custodians joined surfers from the men’s and women’s World Championship Tour on Wednesday, April 10 to restore the coastal dunes as well as lay down branches and brush to close extra pathways through the vegetation – highlighting what it means to be an environmental steward.

World Surf League surfers Jacob Willcox, Ryan Callinan, Brisa Hennessy, Liam O’Brien, Cole Houshmand, Reef Heazlewood, Bettylou Sakura Johnson, Isabella Nichols, and Molly Picklum gave back to the community by supporting the local impact project at Gas Point with Nature Conservation Margaret River Region, Shire of Augusta Margaret River, Surfing WA, Tangaroa Blue, Great Southern Reef Foundation and Cowaramup Bay Boardriders.

Also helping out were young locals Fynn and Reef Lange, Bronte Halden, Kris Markov, Ruth Szandtner and Allijah Walls from Nature Conservation’s Youth Marine Stewardship Program. It’s a program that was funded by the WSL’s Pure Grant Program this year and is aimed at building a culture of coastal stewardship. A total of 14 teenagers who call the Margaret River region home and have a keen interest in the coast were selected to take part, and they’ve already completed a series of workshops all linked to the marine world but covering topics including leadership, mental health, indigenous culture, freediving, reading the coastline and coastal conservation.

Next, they’ll team up to work on projects that zero in on threats to the local marine ecosystem or coast, devise innovative solutions, and tap into a funding war chest to bring them to reality, helped along the way by local experts. Running the brushing busy bee with the world’s best surfers during the Margaret River Pro was one part of their projects.

Nature Conservation’s coastal officer Mandy Polley said Wednesday’s brushing session was a big success. ““It was awesome to be working on coastal rehabilitation on such a perfect autumn afternoon. While surfers enjoyed waves in the background, a motivated team of around 50 people moved a mountain of brush to close unneeded trails at Gas Point, where the activation has been hosted for the last two years,” she said.

“Seeing such a diverse group of people come together to help protect our beautiful coastline, and really enjoy themselves doing it, is always such a buzz.”

Nature Conservation Margaret River Region general manager Drew McKenzie said, with growing population and visitation to the region, it was more important than event that locals were ambassadors and stewards for our coast.

“The coast is a great source of fun and recreation for many of us, but our goal is to inspire locals to be custodians and stewards for the coast too,” he said. “Increasing use of the coast by the growing number of residents and tourists, together with other threats like climate change, are putting pressure on the fragile coastal region.”