Coastal Planners Collaborate

Speakers at the NSW Coastal Conference, held in Port Stephens last week, placed renewed emphasis on the innovative and collaborative approaches to regulation and policy that are needed to sustain the coastal environment and the benefits enjoyed by coastal communities. Presentations foreshadowed the commencement of the Coastal Management Act 2016, with discussion of new ways of thinking about old and new challenges on the coast.

Collaborative management is a key theme of the new Act.

Delegates were inspired by the value to be gained from involving Aboriginal traditional owners of coastal country in decision making and in taking action. Umwelt and Port Stephens Council provided an example of how working together is making a difference at Birubi Point and Stockton Bight.

Umwelt and the Office of Environment and Heritage provided insights about how the new coastal management framework will help to bring the risks affecting protected areas into focus. This will encourage collaboration by public land managers and private land owners on strategies for natural coastal values, maintaining the public good they offer.

Coastal scientists highlighted new technologies for measuring coastal change – physical and ecological and how this rich data can support analysis and provide the evidence for complex decisions and evaluating progress. Decision making will also be strengthened by the introduction of new approaches to economic evaluation of management options and new requirements for fair and transparent sharing of costs and benefits.

Coastal planners discussed policy options, market drivers, physical triggers and the timing of decisions to make managed retreat of vulnerable coastal communities feasible. Coastal population growth and demand for recreational access continue to create social and economic incentives that counter the impacts of coastal erosion and inundation.

At the heart of coastal management are the relationships that enable decisions to be made and acted on. To conclude the Coastal Conference, Pam Dean-Jones, Manager, Communities & Landscapes/Associate joined a panel of engagement specialists for a conversation about building and protecting trust, essential for good coastal decision making.

Contact Pam Dean-Jones at Umwelt on (02) 49 505 322 or email

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