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Australia - National framework key to managing coastlines: research

A reactionary approach towards managing the coastlines on which Australians love to live and play is in desperate need of national legal framework and coordination, researchers urge in a new publication.

With more than 80% of Australians residing within the coastal zone along the country’s 34,000km of coastline, the team highlighted that effective and consistent management of coastlines with growing pressures from climate change was hampered by limited federal engagement and the lack of a national framework, funding and agency.

Currently, much of the Australian coast is managed at the local and/or state government level, with capacity, capability, resources and enthusiasm for coastal management varying between jurisdictions.  

The publication ‘Life On The Edge: Adapting Coastal Management In A Changing Climate‘, published in Australian Quarterly, was co-authored by:

  • Dr Thomas Murray, Coastal and Marine Research Centre, Griffith University;
  • Associate Professor Hannah Power, Coastal and Marine Scientist, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, The University of Newcastle
  • Dr Michael Kinsela, Coastal Marine Geoscientist School of Environmental and Life Sciences, The University of Newcastle
  • Dr Andrew Pomeroy, Coastal and Estuarine Adaptation Laboratory, The University of Melbourne

Historical issues

“Recent and increasingly frequent extreme weather events illustrate the growing and compounding threats faced by the many Australians who live along the coastline,” Dr Murray said.

“Coastal management has typically been piecemeal, reactionary, and remedial, and a lack of consistency between jurisdictions can be confusing for local communities.”

“However, improved conceptual and scientific understanding, engineering techniques, and predictive capabilities mean that we are increasingly able to effectively model, plan, mitigate, and prepare for coastal hazards.”  

But the team said without rigorous, transparent and actionable approaches to risk-based planning, a tendency to underestimate and underappreciate the potential impacts of coastal hazards has prevailed in many jurisdictions.  

Read more.