The past 5 years have been characterised by extreme weather events, many with strong impacts on the coast. In 2011, a marine heatwave in Western Australia decimated kelp forests, causing profound changes in ecosystem structure that have yet to be reversed.
The coast has many qualities that make it attractive for living, including economic, social, recreational and cultural benefits. Human populations have been growing in Australian coastal areas since European colonisation, and this growth has not slowed since 2011.
Impacts of energy and resource extraction on the coast mostly result from the development, expansion and maintenance of ports for processing and export, and the infrastructure needed to extract diffuse energy sources such as coal-seam gas.
Australia’s native vegetation and habitats have been severely affected since European colonisation. Almost 40 per cent of forest (Bradshaw 2012) and more than 90 per cent of grasslands have been lost or heavily degraded.
The section should be read in conjunction with the Heritage report. Much of the data in the Heritage report include the coastal zone, so it is summarised here and readers are directed to the Heritage report for detail.
Cumulative impacts management is the process of determining the desired future state of an ecosystem, and how this will be achieved through control of developments that may have direct, indirect or interactive impacts on that ecosystem (
There have been some recent developments in the approach and tools for coastal management, including emerging analytical methods for decision-making, and conservation at multiple levels of biodiversity.
Recovery from change can be observed in systems that have been heavily degraded, and then either actively restored or allowed to recover by natural processes. Challenges in restoration ecology are the setting of appropriate goals, and the ability to detect when goals are reached.
Clark GF, Johnston EL (2016). Coasts: Topics. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/coasts/topics, DOI 10.4226/94/58b659bdc758b
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