Project 9.4 'Conservation planning for a changing coastal zone'

Project 9.4 'Conservation planning for a changing coastal zone'

The broad goal of this project is to identify strategic priorities for protection and restoration of coastal ecosystems that support the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, in the context of changing land use, expanding infrastructure, and climate change. More specifically, the project will address three limitations of previous research and application in conservation planning. First, conservation planning has focused principally on snapshots of biodiversity and land uses, as if planning regions were static. Approaches to conservation planning are being developed to address natural and anthropogenic dynamics, and these approaches will be adapted and extended by this project. Second, few exercises in conservation planning have attempted to address the physical and biological interactions between land and sea and the cross-realm impacts of human activities. This project will advance land-sea planning and guide planners and managers in resolving tradeoffs between conservation objectives for terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. Third, the implementation of effective actions in priority areas identified by conservation planning has been hampered by complex, conflicting governance (especially in coastal zones), poor understanding of real-world opportunities for and constraints on management, and lack of engagement with stakeholders. This project will link cutting edge methods for explicit conservation planning to analysis of governance, new spatial data on management constraints and opportunities, and close collaboration with stakeholders in multiple sectors.

Generally, the project will advance world’s best-practice in systematic conservation planning, both scientifically and in terms of collaboration with managers and other stakeholders. The project’s science and application are specifically designed to allow managers to make more informed decisions about the conservation of Queensland’s tropical coastal zone and the GBRWHA.

Project outputs at a glance

  • Compilation of all available data on coastal ecosystems and their biodiversity patterns and processes and key socio-economic variables, as input to conservation planning and as a foundation for modelling change.
  • Generalised and, for sub-regions, detailed models of alternative futures for the coastal zone, considering climate change, change in land use and infrastructure, and effects of land uses on water quality in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.
  • A comprehensive set of quantitative and, where necessary, qualitative goals for coastal ecosystems and their biodiversity patterns and processes and for development, access and use of the coastal zone.
  • An assessment of the strengths and limitations of governance in the coastal zone, with insights into how governance can be better coordinated and recommendations on the feasibility and potential effectiveness of new instruments for management.
  • Application of spatially explicit decision-support tools to involve stakeholders in resolving spatial options to achieve goals and resolving conflicts between goals.

Specific objectives and intended outputs of this Project are detailed in the NERP TE Hub Multi-Year Research Plan.

Project Factsheet

Technical Reports

Conservation goals and objectives for the Great Barrier Reef coastal zone Report from a workshop to identify goals, define assets and formulate methods to articulate quantitative objectives


Link to the Project 9.4 homepage on e-Atlas


Project Duration: 
1 Jul 2011 to 31 Dec 2014


Project People