value of the coast
Seadragon - Victoria's state marine emblem.
A clear understanding
of the value of the coast and the tensions between the various values
and the use of coastal resources is fundamental. This understanding
provides a clear rationale for further development of information
and planning and management tools to inform decisions on the coast.
coast supports a diverse range of ecosystems along its 2,000 kilometre
length. The south coast of Australia is the only major south-facing
coastline in the world and has been isolated for approximately 65
million years. This isolation has meant many species have evolved
that only exist in south-eastern and southern Australian waters.
Reef systems, seagrass beds, towering kelp forests, sponge gardens,
intertidal rock platforms and other habitats support the world's
largest diversity of red and brown seaweeds, sea mosses, crabs,
shrimps and sea squirts. Recent marine mapping has discovered previously
unexplored seascapes and communities of organisms new to science.
are significant havens for birds such as penguins, shearwaters,
Australasian gannets and orange-bellied parrots. Australian fur
seals are found in large colonies along the coast and on many of
There are about
123 bays, inlets and estuaries - varying in water area from around
one square kilometre to 2,000 square kilometres. Estuaries are important
for fish spawning or as nursery grounds. Saltmarshes, mangroves
and wetlands are important nesting and feeding grounds for a broad
range of significant waterbirds and waders including migratory species.
1: Examples of ecosystem goods and services
on the foreshore and hinterland vary greatly. Beaches large
and small give way to dune systems. In the swales behind the
dunes, woodlands commonly exist, with some small pockets of
threatened coastal Moonah woodlands still surviving. In other
parts, dry forests can be found down to the beach edge and
coastal heath exists along cliffs and rocky coasts.
ecosystems provide numerous intangible values to the Victorian
community by offering environmental goods and services that
are essential for human well-being. Some of these goods and
services include biodiversity, water purification, climate
regulation, nutrient cycling and the stabilization of shorelines,
which often protects built infrastructure. These in turn support
the maintenance of life, the pursuit of a variety of lifestyles,
and the ability to undertake a range of commercial activities
within the coastal area.
1 gives an overview of coastal ecosystems and the services
from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Ecosystems and Human
Well-Being: Synthesis (World Resources Institute' 2005).
and cultural values
provides significant social and cultural values for Victorians.
The coast's natural aesthetics, heritage, and the diverse range
of recreational pursuits it provides make it attractive and valuable
for residents, visitors and tourists. In Victoria, the coast is
largely accessible and provides for a wide range of experiences
from the bustling city beach to smaller seaside settlements and
the remote, untouched wilderness areas.
values play an important role in creating our sense of place and
defining who we are. Coastal heritage comprises many different layers
of history and meaning, from areas of natural significance to past
and present Aboriginal traditions. Coastal heritage encompasses
places created by early and recent settlers; and includes customs,
celebrations and special characteristics that build community pride
and enhance social cohesion.
Over the past
decade our desire to experience and enjoy the coast has grown significantly.
Bernard Salt in his landmark book The Big Shift: Welcome to the
third Australian Culture (2003) asserts that a new and powerful
culture, the 'culture of the beach' has emerged. This new culture
is challenging the two well-established and dominant cultures of
the bush and the city. The numbers tell the story. Eighty-five per
cent of the country's population lives within 50 kilometres of our
coast and a quarter live within three kilometres. Almost six million
Australians live in coastal areas outside capital cities. In Victoria
between 1996 and 2006 the annual growth rate of Victoria's coastal
areas was 1.4 per cent compared with the state average of 1.2 per
cent, and approximately nine out of ten Victorians visit the coast
every year (IPSOS, 2007).
this sea-change movement is driven by a fundamental shift in Australians'
values, particularly related to leisure, entertainment, lifestyle
and retirement, and enabled by new financial arrangements such as
superannuation. Most Victorians living close to the coast visit
regularly, largely to escape from the daily pressures to a clean,
healthy, natural environment. Research has demonstrated that there
is a strong and important link between the quality of the coastal
environment and the quality of life for many Victorians. Access
to healthy natural environments is good for mental and physical
health and wellbeing.
activities on the coast rely on and are supported by the natural
asset-base of the Victorian coast. Coastal-dependent industries
such as fishing, aquaculture, tourism and recreational pursuits,
ports shipping, and oil and gas extraction make a significant contribution
to local and regional economies and the Victorian economy as a whole.
A study by
consultants URS in 2007, Assessing the Value of the Coast to Victoria,
identified some of the commercial and intrinsic economic contributions
the coast makes to Victoria's economy each year. These findings
are outlined below in summary.
In 2003, total
employment within the tourism industry in coastal areas, not including
Melbourne, was 13,250 people - contributing $908 million to Victoria's
economy. The coastal tourism industry is growing at a much higher
rate than Victoria as a whole. There has been an 18 per cent increase
in tourism employment in coastal regions between 1997 and 2003,
compared to nine per cent for the whole of Victoria (URS, 2007).
ports, shipping, commercial fishing, aquaculture and some renewable
energy industries also rely directly on coastal assets. Together
with coastal tourism, these industries contribute over $2.8 billion
a year to the Victorian economy. If the petroleum industry is included,
the total value is over $5.8 billion, and although most of the industry's
raw resources are outside state waters, much of the handling, processing
and refining operations are within the coastal area (URS, 2007).
The value of
informal recreation such as walking, recreational fishing, sailing,
and sightseeing has been estimated at more than $1.9 billion (URS,
2007). This shows how significant coastal ecosystem services are,
and how protecting natural coastal ecosystems is crucial for their
inherent value and their contribution to Victoria's economy.
away from it all"
- Croajingalong National Park