Business as usual’ is likely to lead to undesirable outcomes for coastal Australia. There are already signs that it is becoming difficult to manage the combined pressure of permanent and temporary populations. Coastal communities that face social and economic problems are unlikely to be conducive to good environmental management, regardless of the levels and types of regulations and sanctions imposed. Local councils in many areas already struggle to maintain infrastructure; if current pressures are not addressed, pollution events and other forms of environmental destruction are likely to become more frequent.
Although there is a relatively high level of protection of major vegetation groups along most of Australia’s coasts, data on how well ecosystems are protected appears to be inadequate (partly because there is no nationally agreed classification of ecosystems—see Chapter 8: Biodiversity). Increasing population pressure is highly likely to have deleterious impacts on coastal ecosystems, which will be hard to manage if good information on what is there, both inside and outside reserves, is not available.