Australian Coastal Society Enews, March 2016
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News from the Chair, Geoff Wescott

Well I hope you all had a great time at the beach over the summer period and had time to enjoy the results of the hard work you put in to protecting our greatest national natural asset – the coast.

Now though it is time to focus our efforts on a big year in front of us which will include the Coast to Coast 2016 Conference in Melbourne in late August / early September and, of course, a federal election.

I was fortunate to meet the Federal Minister Hon. Greg Hunt last year, who I know from Victorian connections is a great lover of the coast and has been an advocate for improved coastal management for many years - not to mention his seat of Flinders traverses Westernport Bay, Phillip and French Islands and the Mornington Peninsula – the heart of very significant environmental assets and a playground for 4 million Melbournians.

We talked of the role the federal government can play in coastal management, the potential for Green Army funds to be used in a coordinated fashion on the coast and other national matters of import.

Meanwhile there will be/ is plenty of activity in New South Wales and Victoria both of which are in the throes of major reviews of coastal legislation and management. Your respective State chapters are closely connected into these reviews and will be making major submissions to various consultation papers.

We will also be opening discussions with other coastal groups (who formed a coastal coalition before the last Federal election) in order to prepare a concerted and coordinated series of recommendations to the major parties on the urgent need for better national action on the impacts of climate change across the entire Australian coastline and a stronger leadership role from the Commonwealth in coastal planning.

You can be assured that your Executive will be maintaining the pressure on all of these fronts. This is going to be an exciting year and it is great to have you on board for the ride!
Geoff Wescott

Chair of Australian Coastal Society

Coast to Coast: save the date

Coast to Coast is Australia’s national Coastal Management Conference, widely acknowledged as the premier event to enhance communication and bridge the divide between those involved in coastal, estuarine and marine planning, management and use.

Coast to Coast 2016 will be hosted by the Victorian Coastal Council (VCC) and held from 29 August to 2 September 2016 at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne. The conference offers an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and experiences in coastal and marine science, policy and governance, providing the opportunity for delegates, sponsors and exhibitors to network and discuss innovation and leading practice with experts from the nation’s leading management and research organisations. 

The program and conference themes are still being finalised but there will be a series of multi-streamed sessions, workshops and field trips that will improve the ability of attendees to respond to coastal and marine issues and sustainable outcomes. The VCC are working on securing Internationally recognised champions in coastal and marine management and conservation to inspire delegates to address the challenges we face. With the aim of a healthy coast, appreciated by all, now and in the future, the conference program will incorporate a wide range of perspectives and expertise.

Coast to Coast conferences have historically attracted around 250-400 delegates, including managers and researchers from councils, universities, consulting companies, regional natural resource management organisations, community organisations, private sector, volunteers and all levels of government. 

Contributing as a sponsor or exhibitor at the Conference, provides a significant opportunity for your organisation to engage with a large field of influential decision-makers and stakeholders in various marine and coastal sectors. The opportunity also exists to meet with delegates through attendance at the Welcome Reception and Conference Dinner.

Wise Connections have been appointed as the Professional Conference Organiser for Coast to Coast 2016, therefore if you have any questions or specific enquiries about tailored sponsorship opportunities or to be an exhibitor please contact: Fiona Guney, Coast to Coast Sponsorship 

Coordinator: 03 9885 6566 :
(pc: ACSVIC member W. Hennecke )

Hello Victorian Members, update by Sue Mudford 

Do you live, work or visit Port Phillip Bay? As a child I went  fishing in the Bay, body surfed in the waves and loved to walk along the stretches of  sandy beach and cliff tops. So I am very interested in how the Bay will be managed in the future.

The Victorian Government’s new Environmental Management Plan for Port Phillip Bay is part of the Government’s commitment to enhance and protect Victoria’s marine and coastal environment. Reflecting this focus, the new Plan will be developed throughout 2016. 

Informed by community and stakeholder feedback, the new plan will seek to address key aspirations and respond to challenges to the future management of the Bay, protecting it for generations to come. 

How can you get involved? 
To inform the preparation of the Environmental Management Plan, we are seeking community and stakeholder input via the following: You can find out more about the Plan by visiting 

What are the next steps? 
Feedback from consultation will inform the preparation of a draft Environmental Management Plan. This is scheduled for release for public comment in mid-2016. 

If you would like further information, please contact Jeremy Hindell from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on 03 9637 9814.

We’re also interested in hearing from you as we will be providing comments on the Plan on behalf of the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Coastal Society. Please send in your comments to us via email:

Keep up to date with Victorian coastal management news on the Victoria Chapter page.

In this talk, Associate Professor Abbas El-Zein, School of Civil Engineering, University of Sydney and Tayanah O’Donnell, University of Canberra unpack the complexities associated with rising sea levels and the decision-making being made at a municipal level.

Coastal Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise is part of the Small Changes: Environmental Conversations series hosted by Sydney Environment Institute and Sydney Ideas. 

In these lectures we share research on how we can make small changes to our every day in order to save our environment.

Small Changes are hosted by Tina Perinotto, Publisher and Editor from The Fifth Estate, and feature researchers from the University of Sydney alongside practitioners.

Wednesday 23 March, 6.00pm - 7.30pm 
Law School Foyer
Sydney Law School
Eastern Ave
The University of Sydney 

Free event with online registration requested. Please click here for the registration page.



The ACS NSW Chapter recently made a submission into the NSW coastal reforms. Led by spokesman John Corkill OAM and with contributions from other State members, the submission highlights a number of positives and also a number of ideas and areas where improvement to the reform package is sought.

Our submission can be downloaded here:
– Cover letter
– Submission
– Appendix 1
– Appendix 2
– Appendix 3
– Appendix 4
– Appendix 5

We would like to thank everyone who took part in our submission. Should you wish to find out more about the submission, please email: and

Stay up to date with ACS NSW news on their Chapter page. 

A Future of Fire

The nature of fire change the environment forever. In the South West of Australia, already in 2016 we have seen several large scale hot fires. Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet and in the South West we are experiencing an increasingly rapid drying climate.

Do we need to consider a change in the way we work within and manage the landscape?

Perth and the Swan Coastal Region’s climate has been re-categorised from Mediterranean to Arid in January, this announcement came as the first of the 2016 fires hit the southern extent of the Swan Coastal region.

In the recent past the region has been described as a Mediterranean or Californian climate and has been characterised by temperate with warm to hot, dry summers and mild cool, wet winters. An Arid climate is very dry, (usually inland desert environments) with very little or no rainfall to support woody plants and trees.

The first of the 2016 fires burnt through 55000ha of woodland, coastal lakes and agricultural land from the coast to the scarp. The fire created its own dry lightning storms.

They were like nothing anyone in the region has seen and devastated townships, the agricultural industry and some of the largest areas of intact highly significant coastal vegetation in the region.

The high temperatures and multiple fires experienced during our fire season in 2016 raises concerns for the immediate and long term environmental state of condition.

What are the tipping points that cause a switch from a stable state of condition to a different or altered and irreversible state of condition?

At what point does fire change the environments ability to support itself and maintain the current and / or future significant natural values and unique ancient biodiversity in an area of drying and warming climates?

In past times, prior to the 1800’s, fire was used more actively and effectively by aboriginal land managers as a purposeful management tool for many generations since ancient times to benefit both human needs and the natural state. As Western Australian land managers learn and attempt to mimic these methods, in WA there has also been a strong move toward a joint management system for traditional owners and government’s working together on State managed land in Western Australia.

Using fire as a management tool and all areas of managing fire risk will need to be considered increasingly now and into the future.

By Jo Ludbrook

To get involved in coastal management in Western Australia, contact Jo –

Life in Mountainous Chiang Mai

Our enthusiastic South Australian Chair and social media extraordinaire, Romana Dew, is currently enjoying a mountain change on exchange in Thailand. Here is a slice of her tree-change experience. 

Tranquil Chiang Mai is quite an old city being the former capital of the Kingdom of Lan Na (1296–1768), even though its name means new city. It is situated on the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River.

Chiang Mai sits amongst some the largest mountain ranges in Thailand, which set a scenic backdrop for the over 300 Buddhist temples dotted throughout the city.  The mountain peaks are geologically composed of metamorphosed sediments and granite forming the southern part of the Shan Highland.

Although the official Chiang Mai city has only a population of 160,000, the city's sprawl extends into several neighbouring districts extending the metropolitan population to nearly one million people.  
The influx of tourists has put a strain on the city's natural resources.  Air pollution due to traffic congestion and agricultural burning is a major environmental issue especially in the spring between February and April.

To mitigate some of these environmental impacts, the city has launched a non-motorised transport (NMT) system which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make the tourism viable in the long term and also generate income for permanent residents. 

During my time in Chiang Mai, I have been lucky enough to walk daily as most of the town’s sights are within an hour’s walk from my apartment on Huay Kaew Rd and can vouch for the accessibility of the NMT system.  Also, solar powered carts run through Chiang Mai University for those disinclined to walk.  Although I am apprehensive about the impending burning season which has already begun in neighbouring regions such as the Mae Hong Son Province.  The air quality is expected to rapidily decline in the next month with particulate concentration well above the recommended levels by the World Health Organisation.
Although Chiang Mai has its environmental problems like most of the world, it is still a restful place to live or visit with a serene hike within walking distance, I certainly would recommend a trip perhaps just not in the burning season if you are asthmatic!!
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Bruce Thom's Blog: 


Do you have unforgettable characters from your past? I have many, but there are three I met as an undergraduate honours student in 1960 that I will never forget. Read more here!

Are you interested in coastal management and sustainability? Do you want to make a real world difference for Australia’s coast?

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Become a member today.

Bruce Thom's Blog: 

In my first year of high school my Maths teacher decided to take a group of us on an excursion to Kurnell. We travelled by tram (yes, tram) from Bondi to the city, then train to Cronulla before commencing to hike to Kurnell. We returned home via the then existing ferry across the entrance of Botany Bay to La Perouse and back to Bondi by tram. Such a memorable trip. Read more here!
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