Climate change responses and adaptation pathways in Australian coastal ecosystems

Authors: Wade Hadwen, Samantha Capon, Daijiro Kobashi, Elvira Poloczanska, Wayne Rochester, Tara Martin, Line Bay, Morgan, Pratchett, Jo Green, Ben Cook, Ashton Berry, Amy Lalonde, Aimee Hall and Shireen Fahey
Year: 2011

This report provides a broadscale synthesis of knowledge on Australian coastal processes, coastal ecosystems, observed and projected climate change in the coastal zone, climate change impacts in coastal ecosystems, autonomous and managed adaptation pathways, knowledge gaps, research priorities, communication and education messages, as well as the key findings of three climate change adaptation case studies at Kakadu National Park, the Hunter River estuary and the Cairns region. Practical on-ground approaches to managed adaptation are presented along with a review of existing strategies of relevance to climate change adaptation for Australian coastal ecosystems. Many existing strategies of relevance to climate change adaptation for Australian coastal ecosystems can be identified amongst global, national, state and local conventions, legislation and policy. For the most part, these do not address climate change specifically but, by addressing non-climatic threats, can be perceived as adaptation strategies since they aim to enhance ecosystem resilience. The case studies help to demonstrate how climate change adaptation for Australian coastal ecosystems are currently being approached. Common themes which emerged from all three case studies include: climate change impacts tend to be common amongst coastal regions but issues associated with their impacts may differ; current management strategies share an overarching aim to build resilience in threatened ecosystems by targeting non-climatic threats; current on-ground climate change adaptation actions are limited; adaptation decision-making is hampered by a lack of certainty and availability of information and funding; adaptation is also impeded by existing legislation and the timeframes involved; unintended consequences of adaptation actions require greater consideration.

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