The Coffs Harbour Local Government Area (LGA) covers approximately 70 kilometres of coastline, extending from Bundagen in the south to Station Creek in the north. Over 90% of the coastline is sandy beaches, separated by rocky headlands and estuaries. The coastal zones includes habitats such as rock platforms, mangrove forests, sea grass meadows, wetlands, estuaries and coastal lakes. These environments are affected by pressures resulting from both human induced and natural coastal processes. Coastal processes are complex systems affecting the coastline, impacting upon private and public assets, property, ecosystems and the environment.
Through natural processes and the resulting hazards, our coastline is ever changing: beaches and sand dunes erode and are rebuilt in response to wave action; sand dunes migrate inland in response to wind attack; stormwater erodes the coastal strip and can modify eco-system dynamics. The main hazards indentified on the NSW coastline include:
- Beach Erosion;
- Shoreline Recession;
- Coastal Entrance Instability;
- Vegetation Degradation and Sand Drift;
- Coastal Inundation;
- Slope and Cliff Instability; and
- Stormwater Erosion.
With more than 80% of the State's population living and working along the eastern seaboard, managing coastline hazards is a difficult but essential task.
Coastal and Estuarine Management
Modern day coastal and estuarine management began in the 1960s and 1970s as severe storms brought about the loss of houses, roads and infrastructure to the sea.
The Coastal Protection Act 1979 amalgamated previous strategies for the protection of the coastal environment, to be managed through the preparation of Coastal and Estuarine Management Plans. The Act prohibits development within the Coastal Zone which does not follow the principals of Ecological Sustainable Development or would hinder the natural behaviour of any coastal water course or sand dune system.
In 1992 and 1997 the NSW State Government introduced the Estuary Management Policy and Coastal Policy, which further aims to manage the growing pressures on coastal ecosystems. These pressures are a result of the rising conflict between development and the natural environment.