New South Wales community perceptions of coastal erosion and inundation

My Coast NSW study
Global environmental change Property Land use Coastal areas Environmental impacts Sea level rise New South Wales

Various locations along the coast of New South Wales (NSW) are presently subject to amenity loss and infrastructure damage associated with erosion and inundation resulting from severe coastal storms. The continued occurrence of these storm events, as well as anticipated sea level rise, will only enhance the extent and cost of erosion and inundation damage of coastal zones throughout NSW in the future, particularly in low-lying estuarine areas.

An important aspect of building community resiliency and preparedness to coastal erosion and inundation is understanding what NSW coastal communities presently understand and perceive about both of these hazards and how these will affect their interaction(s) with, and use of, the coast in the future. However, many knowledge gaps exist regarding community understanding of the nature, driving forces, potential magnitude and frequency, and coastal management solutions in relation to both coastal storms and sea level rise. There are also significant differences in community expectations regarding the future use of the NSW coast, both between different coastal communities and between coastal management professionals, general coastal users and coastal accommodation businesses.

This study involved developing and disseminating a series of survey questionnaires designed to gain a greater understanding of the values, attitudes and perceptions of the NSW community in relation to ‘their coast’ as well as key themes related to coastal erosion, inundation and associated management issues and strategies. The surveys involved questions regarding future expectations of the frequency and magnitude of these coastal hazards, what is considered the ‘best’ way to manage their impacts, and who should be expected to pay for any associated damages.

The purpose of this study was to provide an evidence-based platform that will assist local governments and coastal management professionals in the future development of suitable and effective educational strategies and programs to help improve the ability of NSW coastal communities to adapt sustainably to the risk of coastal erosion and inundation. Additionally, a number of resources, including this Final Report, Fact Sheets, and a study guide for teachers to educate high school students, have been made available to assist in improving general community awareness of these coastal hazards.

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