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About This Book

This book provides an introduction to Australian coastal management, primarily for university students. It will also be of use to government employees and coastal planning consultants in drawing linkages between coastal processes and management. The book will give a better understanding of Australian coastal issues in a global context and also provide an overview of current Australian coastal management practices. It draws heavily on case studies from different states in order to make the text as relevant and practical as possible.

The first chapter of this book attempts to place Australian coastal management in a global context by outlining the importance of the world's coasts for humans and illustrating the international concern for unsustainable coastal resource use and development-related pressure on coastal ecosystems. This chapter clearly outlines how there is a growing international consensus of the need for integrated coastal management as the most effective way forward for the sustainable use of coastal resources. The factors influencing the recent reform of Australian coastal management are then examined. It is noted that there have been significant international influences, such as global change, integrated resource management, sustainable development, and a call for greater community participation. This chapter then outlines some of the major changes to Australian coastal management that have taken place in the 1990s and notes the complexity of management responsibilities and legislative mechanisms between the Commonwealth, state and local governments. This introductory chapter of the book then asks the question 'What is the coast?' and illustrates the diversity of scientific and management definitions, concluding with management definitions of the Australian coastline. This sets the scene for chapter 2.

While the focus of the book is on Australian coastal management and not coastal processes, chapter 2 of the book illustrates the importance of understanding coastal processes in order to effect proper coastal management. Chapter 2 does not attempt to take a traditional approach for discussing and categorising various coastal processes in a 'lock-step' fashion because this is better done by a number of other books which provide a good background to coastal processes from an Australian perspective (e.g. Bird 2000, Davies 1980, Thoml984) or an international perspective (e.g. Carter 1991, Carter & Woodroffe 1997, Davis 1996, Pethick 1997, Viles & Spencer 1995, Woodroffe 2003). The reader should refer to these for a better understanding of specific coastal processes. However, in order to draw the linkages between science and policy and the need for coastal managers to better understand coastal processes, chapter 2 provides a number of selected coastal process case studies (such as nearshore processes and beaches, coral reef and seagrass development) that illustrate the relevance of understanding processes in the context of policy formulation and implementation.

Chapter 3 of the book focuses on human impact on the Australian coast. Rather than attempting an inventory of various impacts, this section uses selected case studies to outline the character and trends of human use; the major locations and extent of impact; and the conservation significance of impacts. Examples include the impact from urban development (metropolitan and non-metropolitan), the importance of catchment impacts on the coast, pressure from tourism and mining, and impacts from the commercial use of coastal waters.

Chapter 4 is the longest section of the book and deals with the need for coastal management. It examines in detail the various government roles and responsibilities, using specific examples of the various mechanisms for coastal management in the different states. It also outlines the role of environmental impact assessment, regional and strategic plans, local action plans and links to LA21. The chapter provides an overview of the role of the community in Australian coastal management, particularly with the introduction of schemes such as Coastcare. Another important aspect of management is determining priorities within the context of scarce management resources. In order to explore this, the chapter examines nature conservation issues, coastal areas of high conservation significance and landscape value. Finally, this chapter places planning and management in the context of sustainable coastal development and the need to consider the issue of scientific uncertainty and the precautionary principle in coastal planning.

The final chapter of the book – chapter 5 – attempts to provide an overview of the current state of coastal management in Australia. This is particularly relevant as there have been a number of coastal management changes occurring in the 1990s at all levels of government, along with greater community involvement that are collectively changing the way coastal management operates in this country. Given these recent changes, the concluding part of the book looks to the future for Australian coastal management particularly in the context of global change and the international imperative to develop effective integrated coastal management programs.

 
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