NSW Coastal Conference 2019

Umwelt was recently part of the 28th NSW Coastal Conference at Terrigal and was pleased to see the increased focus on estuary health that was facilitated by the conference theme – ‘Connecting Coast, Catchment and Community’.

The NSW Coastal Conference is a wonderful week of sharing ideas, hearing about new research and catching up with coastal colleagues and friends.   It was great to hear from emerging scientists and from young people whose enthusiasm and commitment to the environment brings hope for the future.

A highlight for us was the scope of papers on estuary science, collaborative engagement on estuary issues and innovations in restoring estuary health, as well as new work on updating the NSW water quality objectives for estuaries.  Estuaries are where all the elements of the coastal environment, coastal development and complex natural and socioeconomic values really come together.  They are also where the greatest coastal risks associated with climate change lie – through impacts on wetlands, productive fisheries and on low lying coastal development which is subject to tidal inundation as sea level rises.

Our Principal Consultant, Communities and Landscapes Consultant, Pam Dean-Jones, presented with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) on the challenges of managing Ramsar wetlands in urban estuaries and the process and priorities of the Response Strategy to address direct, human induced ecological change at Towra Point Nature Reserve Ramsar Site in Botany Bay.

Umwelt has been providing coastal management advice to local and state government clients for over two decades, contributing to the development of evidence-based solutions to meet community and environmental needs.  The conference was an opportunity to hear about progress on issues that we have contributed to over many years.  This includes several papers from councils and consultants on how they have approached the Stage 1 Scoping Study of preparing a coastal management program, implementing the coastal management framework in part developed by Umwelt staff.

Other presentations that outlined progress on issues that are part of our project record include:

  • outcomes of management plans for the health of Tuggerah Lakes
  • management of Posidonia beds in sensitive estuaries
  • impacts of sediment loads and sedimentation patterns in coastal wetlands
  • dune management to protect Aboriginal cultural sites and manage interactions between off-road vehicles and other users – at sites such as Stockton Bight and Belmont Wetlands State Park

Umwelt is currently part of Lake Macquarie City Council’s collaborative approach to local adaptation planning for suburbs which will increasingly be affected by tidal inundation – a project reported on by council at the Conference.  We are involved in projects on water security and wastewater management in estuaries.  We provided the initial strategic advice to NPWS on managing the health of the Lake Innes/Lake Cathie estuary, a system now severely affected by drought and the subject of a passionate plea from the local community at the Conference.

New research on these areas, presented at the conference, highlights the importance of iterative and adaptive coastal management that revisits difficult management challenges with new science, improved data and new management alliances that give local communities the tools and opportunities to contribute to the development of solutions.

Umwelt is looking forward to being part of the 29th conference, to be hosted by Tweed and Byron councils. If you would like any further information on the conference or projects mentioned above, please contact Pam on 1300 793 267 or pdeanjones@umwelt.com.au.