LAND: OWNERSHIP AND RIGHTS

Simon Winchester is one of my favourite authors. He brings to his stories a background in geology. I was captivated by the book “The Map that Changed the World” (2001); it was about a geological map and a man named Smith. But his other works such as “The Fracture Zone”, “Krakatoa”, and “When the Earth Shakes” follow a similar theme. This year he has published an enthralling book: “Land” with the subtitle “How the hunger for ownership shaped the world” (William Collins,2012). Read More

EXTREME CLIMATE EVENTS: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF FLOODS

“Flood plains are for floods”: so said Moss Cass, Minister for Environment in the Whitlam Government. The occasion was the devastating Brisbane floods of 1974. He recommended buy back of properties in harm’s way, and yes, a voluntary scheme was put in place. Guess what? More development took place after the Wivenhoe dam was built allowing for a repeat of devastation in the 2011 floods. Protocols in place to manage dam water levels were somewhat confusing between the role of the dam for flood mitigation and water supply. Read More

ESTUARY WETLANDS AND SEA-LEVEL RISE

Over the past three decades or so much has been written on the response of wetland ecosystems bordering estuarine waterways to sea-level rise. In some ways this followed many geological studies supported by radiocarbon dating and lots of coring in marshes and swamps in the northern hemisphere where continued sea-level rise in the late Holocene has left behind a distinctive buried record of marine transgression. Read More

COASTAL ZONE AND CATCHMENT BOUNDARIES

Soon after the NSW Coastal Policy was released in 1998 a debate occurred at a coastal conference that the Government had misrepresented the boundary of the Coastal Zone. The mapped boundary did NOT include the natural coastal system based on river catchments. In essence the Zone was defined by a line 1km back from high water including lakes and rivers using the nearest cadastral boundary as the landward limit. Maps were prepared and gazetted. Inside that boundary certain statutory provisions prevailed based on legislated planning provisions. This boundary, with modifications and extensions, prevails today. Read More

Coastal Archaeology Revisited

Browsing in my local Berkelouw’s store last weekend a title on the fiction table struck me: “The Beach Caves”. Usually titles on that table bear no relation to the subject but a quick look and wow! The front page said this is “an archaeological thriller that has a real sense of lived experience”. Where I wondered, could it be: in UK or somewhere exotic? No, it is here in NSW. Read More

JUDITH WRIGHT - POET, COASTAL CONSERVATIONIST AND MUCH MORE

From time to time I return to the writing and work of Australians who have inspired me. One such person is the highly acclaimed poet, Judith Wright (1915-2000). Born into a privileged pastoral family of the New England region, she soon distanced herself from the conservative values of her family to help drive the “conservation” movement in Australia in its battle with the forces of “progress”. Read More

COASTAL STORIES FROM THE FIELD,1970-2020

Last week Australia Post successfully delivered a neat package from the USA in the form of Special Issue No 101 of the Journal of Coastal Research (2020). Although this issue has been out online for some months it was a great delight to see the hard copy. And what a magnificent volume it is. Read More

US COASTAL MANAGEMENT UNDER TRUMP

The election of Joe Biden as President will surely bring changes to ways of managing environmental issues at various scales in the USA. This has already been foreshadowed with the nominations for cabinet positions, including the role of John Kerry on climate change. Read More

2020: A COASTAL PERSPECTIVE

Many have used the term “unprecedented” to define 2020. Very few will lament its passing. Much has been written of its fires, Covid 19, political actions (or inactions), injustices and different ways of conducting business. Yes, it was exceptional and for those of us with coastal interests there was plenty to remember. Read More

EPBC ACT CHANGES –WILL THEY BE WORTH THE EFFORT?

Legislation before the Senate provides an opportunity to address declining environmental conditions in Australia. However, the emphasis has been on streamlining the approvals process and devolving federal powers to the states and territories. Unless changed, this legislation will mean that on-going causes of decline will continue and be exacerbated by forces of climate change. Read More