Over 90% of Australians live within 100 km of the coast – our cities, industries, recreation and culture are closely entwined with this environment. Given a possible projected population growth to 35.9 million by 2050 (ABS), the way in which future developments are managed now will have profound consequences for present and future Australians. Some parts of continental Australia’s 36,0000 km coastline are already under threat from rapid and continuing coastal population growth and urbanisation (e.g., south-east Queensland), catchment degradation (e.g., Great Barrier Reef), loss of coastal foreshore amenity, environmental impacts from industry, conflicting and incompatible resource use, and climate change (e.g., sea-level rise, extreme events and ocean acidification).
Given our high dependence on and use of coastal areas, we need to better understand reasons for and rates of change within them. It is essential we collect and make accessible ecosystem data for research and management to understand the nature of changes to our coastal ecosystems and to report and most importantly forecast their trajectory. Currently, however, observations of coastal change are largely measured ad hoc by local agencies seeking to understand a specific question or region. This approach does not lend itself to solutions at scale; justify investment in coastal restoration projects; and is not an effective way of collecting data to support modelling or predictions that could underpin decision-making.
Presenters will address:
Will dedicated, sustained coastal observations help us to understand the effects of ocean processes on coastal habitats?
What motivates marine coastal restoration projects, what do they cost and how likely are they to succeed?
What is the current status and accessibility of Australia’s coastal data services?