Coastal Management Byron Bay, Northern NSW Location * An oceanside town in the northern beaches region of New South Wales (28°38’35. 04”S, 153°36’54. 47”) Major Issues and Geographical Processes/Effects * Erosion and rising sea levels present themselves as the most major issues; * Particularly on the strip of coast known as Belongil Beach * Erosion along Belongil has created major obstacles for the construction of new buildings, and the preservation of pre-existing estates; with many having already been destroyed due to the instability of sand/soil structure. Rising sea levels threaten to engulf and flood out seafront homes, hence also weakening housing foundations and rendering them uninhabitable. * Various forms of erosion that constantly occur within the area include; wave erosion, wind erosion and physical altering of landscape by third parties. * Tourism is seen to be plateauing, with the local council of Byron Shire giving berth to nature and seemingly withdrawing their funding to prevent the damage being done to their beaches; allowing the erosion and natural destruction to flow over, instead of conserving their environment and the homes of their residents. May be compared to the town of Noosa; when confronted with heavy storming, the local council focused the majority of its funding and efforts on preserving the appearance of the beaches, with fresh replacement sand instantly being ordered to cover all the signs of physical erosion – and maintain aesthetic appeal. * Such differences may be attributed to the varying environmental and socioeconomic pressures that effect both districts, with the recent influx of human settlement in coastal areas under the supposed modern ‘sea-change phenomenon’ boosting the circulation of money and provided services.
On the other hand, the rising sea levels attributed to enhance greenhouse emissions and climate change has the ‘potential to destroy houses on the beach and radically change present beachfront land uses. ’ Perceptions of Different Groups * Local Council * The local council of Byron Shire has previously placed injunctions against residents requesting permission to erect their own blockages and barriers against the ocean. * Local Residents Local residents see the great importance in preserving the biodiversity, ecosystems and sustainability of human life on the coastline; hence driving their intense desires to create a blockage to prevent water from seeping onto the land and flooding out all organisms – also rendering the land invalid for human habitation. * Tourists * Conversely to the residents, tourists strongly believe in preserving the authority of nature, possibly believing that it is indeed the beauty of nature’s own ever-changing nature that presents itself to be attractive to new-comers.
Such a belief is based upon the idea that without being physically altered, the environment will always maintain a healthy balance of organisms and ecosystems. However, such beliefs often disprove of people going ‘against natures will’ and using artificial means of preserving life. Individual, Group and Government Responses * Actions taken; * The Local Council with their ‘coastal retreat policy’ has prevented any physical barrier from being created to block off the sea from the land, hence allowing the ocean to gradually engulf further into the coastline. By creating conservation zones within the coastal area, various ecosystems and wildlife have been protected and sustained physically – with areas such as sanctuary zones and habitat protection zones created in order to maintain the ecology within the respective areas. As a result, activities such as fishing and smoking may be prohibited. * Implications; * Preventing any form of separation from being constructed in between the land and the sea greatly increases the chance of the inland area from being affected by rising sea levels, with the life on the coastline eing placed at a much higher risk – a much smaller chance of sustainability. * Conservation in any form may be seen as an attempt to counteract the reduction of sustainability caused by the local council’s ‘coastal retreat policy’, however, it does not affect the condition of the coast’s sand and soil composition in any way whatsoever. Nevertheless, conserving wildlife and the environment is the first big step in creating a much more expansive and healthy ecology in the future. * Responses to actions; Individual residents have all complained and petitioned for the rights to create a barrier against the sea, in order to preserve t heir quality of living. * The Byron Shire Council has consistently denied such privileges to the inhabitants of the area, stating that a ‘coastal retreat’ policy is a much better and practical option. * What these actions mean for future sustainability; with the local council rejecting all proposals for sandbag barriers or D. I. Y walls, the ‘coastal retreat’ policy could potentially destroy all remaining infrastructure on the Belongil Beach.